Bucks Advent Calendar: Sunday 17 December – When it isn’t a happy Christmas…


Date: 17th Dec 2017

Louise Harvey, Head of Communications at Bucks New University, volunteers for the Samaritans and writes about how the charity is for anyone who needs a safe place to share their feelings.

Christmas can be a difficult time for people who are struggling with the pressures of life.

For some, it’s money worries. Others are facing relationship troubles or are feeling the loss of a loved one. Many are desperately lonely. These are issues that affect people all year but the festive season can place an additional strain as people feel the expectation to be ‘having a good time.’

Samaritans is a charity that provides emotional support to people in despair 24/7, even on Christmas Day. I trained as a listening volunteer four years ago and work one shift a week, including night duties so we’re there when other support services are closed. I take calls, answer texts and emails, and give face-to-face support at our branch.Samaritans are there to help

We make sure our students know that the Samaritans is there to support them if they’re finding life hard as well as all the help the University offers.

Samaritans offers a safe place for people to share their feelings. They can tell us anything. We won’t pass judgement or share it outside the charity. The caller is the most important person so we don’t talk about ourselves. We don’t give advice, we just listen.

Being a Samaritan volunteer can be challenging but being there to support people at the most difficult times in their lives is a real privilege.

Yes, some of the things our callers share are very sad but it’s rewarding when someone tells you that you’ve helped them in that moment. Just giving someone the chance to be properly listened to can help them to explore what their options might be. Callers tell me that just sharing their thoughts without interruption can ease the burden of the situation they’re experiencing.

Last year, I spent two days as a Samaritan at Crisis centres in London over the Christmas period, supporting the great work the charity does to help people living on the streets. It was a huge dose of perspective at a time when many of us are so wrapped up in our own families and friends.

Anyone who is feeling overwhelmed at Christmas, or at any time of the year, can contact us. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard to get the words out or if you need to cry. Nothing is dismissed as trivial. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us. Please get in touch:

Free call: 116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.org.uk

Or visit www.samaritans.org to find your local branch to visit


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