CHRISTMAS may be a time for festive cheer and spending time with loved ones but new figures from Samaritans reveal that caller concerns about family have risen for the fifth year in a row.
So far throughout 2021 family worries have made up 34 per cent of emotional support contacts with the charity across the UK and Republic of Ireland – a 26 per cent increase over the past five years.
Mental health/illness is holding steady as the top overall concern at 46 per cent, with isolation and loneliness rankingthird at 28 per cent, and relationship problems follows on 24 per cent.
Now, Rochdale Oldham and District Samaritans is launching its ‘Be A Samaritans Christmas Star’ campaign toensure volunteers are on-hand to provide emotional support throughout the festive season, which can be aparticularly difficult time.
This Christmas, Samaritans volunteers will respond to more than 250,000 calls for help. Volunteers at Rochdale andacross the country will be there round-the-clock to make sure there’s always someone available to listen to anyone who is feeling alone or struggling.
Moyra from Rochdale Oldham and District branch said: “While many look forward to the Christmas period, at Samaritans we know this time of year can actually be e a huge challenge for some people.
“Our amazing volunteers will, as they do every hour of every day, be giving their time this Christmas to anyone who needs support. I think that is a pretty special gift to give.
I’m so proud of the work Samaritans does, and I know what a huge difference it makes to people’s lives.
So, for anyone who is struggling, Samaritans is here for them, for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
One Christmas caller who credits Samaritans with saving her life has been chosen as the face of the charity’s latestfestive campaign.
Stephanie, 33, phoned Samaritans regularly just after Christmas 2015 when she was really struggling.
She said: “Christmas always felt like a particularly difficult time. One year on Christmas Eve, it all got too much and Itried to take my life.
“I woke up the next day feeling very unwell, but I got dressed and went to visit my family for Christmas. I becamegood at putting on a front.”
Stephanie, who is a celebrity manicurist to the stars who works with Little Mix, Leona Lewis and Disney, continued: “I look back at the pictures and I’m smiling, but I wasn’t OK at all. That feeling built up and spilled over into the NewYear.
“I didn’t know who to speak to, so one night I called Samaritans and let everything out. I remember feeling embarrassed and it took me a long time to get everything out.
“I am so thankful to that volunteer. He saved my life that night. I realised I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.”
Stephanie is now calling on the public to ‘Be A Samaritans Christmas Star’ this season. To make a donation toRochdale Oldham and District Samaritans visit samaritans.org/donate-christmas and select Rochdale at checkout.
As little as £5 could enable Rochdale Oldham and District Samaritans answer a call for help from somebodystruggling this Christmas.
To find out other ways you can support Rochdale Oldham and District Samaritans visit: www.samaritans.org/rochdale