Health Minister thanks incredible Samaritans volunteers

Date published: 22 July 2021

Minister Swann has visited local volunteers from Coleraine and District Samaritans to thank them for the vital work they are doing to support those in need.

Minister visiting Samaritans volunteers
Health Minister Robin Swann and Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Richard Holmes pictured with Samaritans listening volunteers (L-R) Robbie Glenn; Elaine Moore; Colin Taylor and Anne Kane

The visit took place ahead of Samaritans Awareness Day 24/7, which takes place every year on 24 July. The date is used to highlight that Samaritans are available 24/7 to listen to anyone who is struggling to cope.

Speaking following the visit, Minister Swann said: “Samaritans in Coleraine have been providing this essential service for over 50 years and I was privileged to meet some of the team yesterday. The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for many people. The impact on emotional wellbeing and mental health will continue to be felt for many months and years to come.

“The service that Samaritans provides ensures a listening ear  for those who are most in need. During this challenging period it is essential that people know there is help available when they need it. Encouraging people to talk about their problems is the first important step in dealing with mental health issues.”

The Samaritans provide confidential emotional support to any person, who is suicidal or despairing, and work to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression. Trained volunteers provide the support service.

David McKeown, Director of Samaritans Coleraine said: “Samaritans volunteers have been there for others throughout the pandemic, and the challenges that many people have faced because of the pandemic are continuing and won’t necessarily ease with restrictions lifting.

“Other people may find returning to everyday life more challenging than others. Samaritans is encouraging people to offer a listening ear to anyone they’re concerned about.”

Recognising the commitment of Samaritans volunteers, Minister Swann said: “I want to pay tribute to the Samaritans team who dedicate their time to helping others. The incredible volunteers I met in Coleraine come from all walks of life and should be commended for the vital role they play in ensuring that those who need support get it.”

Samaritans can be contacted at any time on Freephone 116 123.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption: Health Minister Robin Swann and Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Richard Holmes pictured with Samaritans listening volunteers (L-R) Robbie Glenn; Elaine Moore; Colin Taylor and Anne Kane
  2. The Samaritans have developed media guidelines to assist journalists with the sensitivities of reporting suicide.
  3. There are eight local Samaritans branches across Northern Ireland.
  4. Trained volunteers provide the service 24 hours a day and a large proportion of the Samaritans funding is received from public donations.
  5. In Northern Ireland Samaritans have made an important contribution to suicide prevention and have been involved in the development and implementation of the Protect Life suicide prevention strategy.
  6. Samaritans Coleraine will be training further volunteers in September. Further information is available by contacting 07979 448292.
  7. The charity has designed a series of online cards for people to pledge to become better listeners by pledging to listen without being distracted, to listen without interrupting and to check in with loved ones.
  8. Useful tips from starting up a conversation and how to actively listen, to supporting someone who is going through a difficult time are also available on its website.
  9. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.  
  10. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
  11. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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