'We need you' – Norwich Samaritans’ call for volunteers

Volunteers standing outside smiling

Norwich Samaritans is currently recruiting volunteers for its support line and retail stores - Credit: Chris O'Donovan/Samaritans

Are you looking for a way to help others during the pandemic? As a Samaritans volunteer, you’ll be there for people when it matters most.

Volunteer on the phone

Samaritans answers a call for help every seven seconds in the UK - Credit: Chris O’Donovan/Samaritans 

Samaritans answers a call for help every seven seconds in the UK. The confidential telephone support line is available 24/7 for those experiencing emotional distress and provides a safe forum in which people can talk about their issues to someone who is trained to listen. 

Norwich Samaritans is currently recruiting volunteers for its telephone support line and retail charity stores and is looking for members of the community who want to give back. 

The number of adults in the UK giving up their time for volunteering activities has surged in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with one in five (19%) giving up their time for community action since the start of the lockdown in March 2020, according to a report by Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research. 

After comprehensive training, listening volunteers will join a team of 160 people based at St Stephens Square to answer calls and messages from people who really need someone to talk to. 

“Giving your time to somebody who is struggling is very rewarding,” says Bev, Deputy Director for Recruitment. “You know you are there specifically for that other person on the phone. It is an incredible experience that takes you out of yourself. 

“We are not going to judge. We are not going to interrupt. We will actively listen and talk to callers to give them the time and space to consider their options. We sincerely hope that by our conversations we can bring some hope that things may get better for those who call or email us.” 

Every call answered by Samaritans can be instrumental in supporting those in distress, but it is not just the telephone line in need of volunteers. Norwich Samaritans is also looking for assistance in its community shops. 

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More than half of Norwich Samaritans’ annual income is generated by its two retail stores on Westlegate and Aylsham Road. Deputy Director for Shops, Pete, says: “Our shops perform a vital role in bringing in funds, but they also act as a first point of contact with many members of the public. People who may be feeling distressed and not knowing where to go will often ask about Samaritans in the shops and will be directed to our freephone number or email address. 

“In return for the service that our shop volunteers give to us, we offer basic training in retail and customer service, including over-the-counter sales and preparing goods for donation and display.” 

Training has been adapted to ensure compliance with coronavirus safety measures so that customers, volunteers and staff remain safe. While the retail stores are closed at the moment, Norwich Samaritans is currently looking to recruit in time for reopening when lockdown measures are lifted. 

“We are looking for outgoing people who would like to give their time and energy to serve others, and who may be interested in a career in retail in the future,” Pete explains. “We meet a lot of people who may lack confidence in getting a job at the moment. After volunteering with us, they acquire the confidence and skills to enter the world of work. 

“Samaritans is a nurturing space to learn these essential skills,” Pete adds. “Nobody is ever alone. We have a comprehensive system of support at Samaritans, whether you are a caller or a volunteer.” 

For more information about volunteering with Norwich Samaritans, please email volunteering@norwichsams.org.uk or call 01603 665554. If you have other skills that you would like to offer, visit samaritans.org/norwich and get in touch. 

The Samaritans helpline is free to call on 116 123 for anyone who is struggling to cope and needs to talk. 

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