To raise awareness of Samaritans and the support they offer to everyone, listening volunteers and previous caller Kay shares her story of picking up the phone and the difference it made to her life
“I can say without irony or agenda, that person I spoke to saved my life,” Kay asserts on Happy’s podcast I am. I have. Kay is now a listening volunteer for Samaritans and dedicated to helping people when they need it. She knows from first-hand experience the perspective changing power of a conversation when you are at your lowest ebb.
Kay’s own call to Samaritans changed what was an overwhelming and frightening situation for her into a series of interactions that helped her recover from a potentially life-changing illness and subsequent low mood and fearful.
It all began with a health emergency that took place on her daily commute into London. Kay collapsed on board her train after unknowingly developing sepsis from a tick bite on a dog walk, and had to be rushed into hospital as a result. This experience was understandably very traumatising for her.
“When I woke up in the hospital I was physically on the mend,” Kay explains. “Mentally, I was challenged.”
Kay shared her feelings with her GP who offered antidepressants but it wasn’t a route she wanted to take at that time. However, Kay was looking at an eighteen month waiting list for counseling with the NHS and six weeks through her work’s medical insurance. Even the shorter period of time, Kay shares, felt far too long for her to cope with.
Kay found herself waiting on a train platform during this period and this is when she noticed the sign for Samaritans. “As luck would have it that day the train was delayed. I called and got through within three minutes,” Kay says. “Suddenly I had someone actively listening to me. That call was the conversation that triggered me to think that there is support available.”
I knew I was supported and could always call Samaritans at any time all year around
The Samaritan’s listening volunteer explained to Kay that she could contact them whenever and however she needed to, as her train arrived. “I emailed them and phoned again,” Kay says. “Then, I ran speaking to Samaritans and the wholesome support alongside the therapy I started to have. When I felt strong enough to finish my course of talking therapy, I knew I was supported and could always call Samaritans, at any time, all year around.”
Becoming a listening volunteer
“I imagined, and now I know it to be true, that there are lots of Kays, Rays or They’s across the country who need that support too, regardless of what they do and what their background is and I wanted to be part of that ,” Kay explains, speaking of her decision to become a listening volunteer herself.
Now, as a trained advocate for the free service too, she wants to spread the word about the benefits of calling Samaritans and dispel any misconceptions.
Your crisis could be putting one foot in front of the other every day
“First and foremost people should know that it’s a very confidential and non-judgemental conversation you’ll be having with whomever you speak to,” Kay says. “You don’t have to be at what you might consider at the extreme end of crisis to call. Your crisis could be putting one foot in front of the other every day.
“And as hard as it might be for people to make the call, as soon as you do, you are wholly supported,” she continues, smiling. “Also know that the caller is always in control, whatever they choose to say or not choose to say, it is the caller’s call.”
“And finally, please get in touch whatever way suits you the most. We’re here all year round, so on Christmas day if you’re feeling overwhelmed, someone will be there to respond to you, even in the middle of the night. We want to support you. That’s why I do it, I want I want someone to feel supported in the way I was because my life would be very different, I feel, had I not phoned Samaritans ”
Listen to Kay’s episode of I am. I have – How It Helps to find out more
Talk to Us – Supporting Samaritans
Throughout July, Samaritans will be running its annual awareness-raising campaign, Talk to Us. The campaign aims to let people know that Samaritans volunteers are here 24/7 for anyone who is struggling to cope.
In 2021 Samaritans volunteers spent over one million hours responding to calls for help.
To show our support, Happy will be raising awareness on social media throughout July, as well as marking Samaritans Awareness Day on 24 July.
If you’d like to get involved, you can help raise awareness this month by sharing Samaritans’ messaging on your own social media pages using #TalkToUs and #SamaritansAwarenessDay.
When life is difficult, Samaritans are there – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
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