It’s been an incredibly tough year…..read how the Samaritans adapted
North West Surrey Samaritans is a local branch of Samaritans, which offers a 24-hour listening service for anyone who is going through a difficult time.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, North West Surrey Samaritans saw an 80% drop in income as fundraising events were put on hold and local donations dried up. A bridge-funding grant from Walton Charity ensured they could keep their helpline open and continue providing vital support.
Thanks to the work of their volunteer listeners, administrators and support staff, the branch has been able to keep answering calls and emails, supporting thousands of people last year.
Many of the callers were lonely, vulnerable and had been badly affected by the pandemic. One volunteer said: “It has been an incredibly tough year for us all, but I have never felt like I have been needed by our community more.”
The pandemic and repeated lockdowns forced the branch to rethink its recruitment and training models. Many of their older volunteers were required to shield in the early stages of the pandemic and they are now focusing on recruiting volunteers of different ages and backgrounds.
New volunteers will now learn through online training modules and Zoom group sessions will be used to evaluate trainee skills. This change required a substantial investment in IT and resources, but they are confident the investment will pay off in a post-pandemic world, making their service more efficient and accessible.
“The bridge funding we received from Walton Charity has been a lifeline for our branch.”