Today (Saturday), is World Mental Health Day (WMHD) and whilst the world will recognise this and share messages of support, Bedford Samaritans Volunteers will be busy answering calls and emails from callers who are reaching out for support.
On #WMHD, 12 of Bedford Samaritans’ 120 listening volunteers will be on duty throughout the day and evening.
Throughout the pandemic, calls relating to loneliness, isolation, wellbeing and mental health have risen, with coronavirus restrictions and effects at the forefront of people’s minds.
Branch Director, Rachel, said, “We have many callers who have a mental health illness and are facing problems because of this.
“While our volunteers are not there to solve problems directly, they are trained to listen and support callers by exploring feelings around the struggles that a mental health diagnosis can bring, to hopefully encourage our callers to engage with professional mental health services.
“I would encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to pick up the phone and talk to us.”
The Bedford branch of Samaritans has been able to remain open throughout lockdown, with various special measures in place to enable the volunteers to carry on their vital work.
While the Samaritans work in the community has had to be paused, the team has discovered different ways to offer support to various organisations who have needed it.
Outreach manager, Robert, who has been able to organise this support, said, “Samaritans have still been able to engage with local emergency services, NHS and local authorities public health services through virtual methods and has provided emotional support to those who needed this.
“Samaritan services have been promoted alongside other crisis services to those who are in distress due to the coronavirus impact on their lives, or have suicidal feelings.”
Local Samaritan volunteers have also been seconded to BLEVEC (the Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers organisation) for five months to provide support to vulnerable groups who had to self-isolate or shield, and 530 calls were made by volunteers over that period and intensive emotional support given to 67 individuals.
Although the BLEVEC service has now closed, Samaritans continue to offer their support to vulnerable groups in our community who still have to cope with the impact of coronavirus on their lives and to others whose mental wellbeing may be affected by other issues including financial worries, redundancy, relationship breakdowns and bereavement.
Bedford Samaritans is supporting the work of a range of agencies including Mind BLMK and CHUMs to promote greater understanding of mental health issues on World Mental Health Day.
Bedford Samaritans has 120 Listening Volunteers and is part of a network of 201 branches. Samaritan volunteers are available to listen to anyone who is struggling or in distress day or night, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You do not have to be suicidal to make contact.
Anyone can contact Samaritans for free from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit, or you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org