This is my second stint at being a Samaritan. My first was some 20 years ago, in my early 30’s and keen to introduce some regular voluntary work into my life. I’d just returned to London after taking a sabbatical from work, and life in general, mainly to travel in North, Central and South America. As part of that trip I had the opportunity to work in a children’s home in Brazil and it was a particularly memorable experience. I came home, to a new job, with a new outlook and a keenness to bring more balance to my day to day life and after considering a variety of options, Samaritans was the one that appealed most. After an interesting and challenging information and selection process, I embarked upon 3 months of in depth training, followed by several mentored shifts and finally earned my stripes and became a member of the Putney branch. For me being a Samaritan at Putney branch meant a 3 hour shift each week and then once a month one of those shifts would be an ‘overnight’. I did this for 3 years, only taking what was intended to be a short break a few weeks before the birth of my first daughter. I soon realised that having a new born, a full time job and now living in North London was going to make being a Samaritan in South West London, very tricky. I left convinced that I would return at some point and convinced at what a valuable and somewhat underrated service Samaritans provide.
Now, some 16 years later I have returned to the Samaritan fold. This time to a branch in North London, close to my home. I went through the regular selection process and retrained. Much of the training and discussion was familiar, although with the addition this time of text and email as a communication tool.
The following article was written by a fellow Samaritan and recently featured in the Guardian and is way more articulate than I can be and summarises perfectly the reasons I too have for being a Samaritan.
Desperate people are calling the Samaritans and getting and engaged tone