Senior Labour politicians and Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma visits Samaritans to get a first hand experience of their community works..The MP shares his experience for Asian Lite News
Anybody can contact Samaritans, in person or via phone, email or text message. It is a confidential service for anyone feeling like they are struggling to cope or that they need someone to talk to who isn’t a close friend or family member.
The service is run entirely by volunteers who are ordinary Ealing residents who have undergone a lengthy training programme and are taking time out of their busy lives to provide a listening ear to people going through difficulties – be their problems big or small. It was wonderful to chat to them and find out about the service they provide.
They told me that some people think of them as having a religious background, but in fact they are a secular organisation, open to people of any faith or none. They were originally given the name ‘Samaritans’ by the Daily Mirror, who saw in their work a parallel with the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. Despite them being a secular organisation, the name stuck.
Samaritans was set up by Chad Varah in 1953. He was inspired to set up a service where people could ask about anything at all after hearing of a girl aged 14 who had started her period, but who had no-one to talk and believed that she had a sexually transmitted disease. Tragically, that girl took her own life out of shame.
Chad realised that sometimes we all need to talk, and that sometimes it’s easier to talk anonymously than it is to friends and family. Samaritans don’t judge: they’re just there to listen.
Today, someone calls Samaritans every six seconds, and the service is completely confidential. Samaritans can support you to you to explore your feelings and options, and help you to find your way through whatever difficulties you are facing.Their Outreach Officer, Ann McLaughlin, told me:
“Samaritans volunteers are always there to answer the phone, round the clock, every single day of the year. We provide a safe place here people can be themselves – whoever they are, however they feel, and whatever life’s done to them.”
You can call Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123, or drop in at their branch in 26 Junction Road, Ealing, London, W5 4XL, where they promise you a warm welcome, a cup of tea, and the chance to talk about anything that’s on your mind.They’re open to visitors 10.00 am – 9.00 pmmost weekdays. You can find details of their opening times on their website:
I was impressed with what I saw, and I’d recommend the professional and kind volunteers at Samaritans to anyone who feels they need someone to listen.
And if you don’t feel you need the Samaritans’ service at this moment in your life, do think about supporting them. Samaritans is staffed by volunteers and run on donations. Go to http://www.samaritans.org/