No call for help goes unanswered

by The Samaritans (Central London Branch)
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No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
No call for help goes unanswered
Our branch
Our branch

We are so grateful to all of you who have donated to us so we thought you'd like to see where we are and how we provide our service. This is where your money goes.

Our building is in the heart of Soho,London, tucked away in Marshall Street. The building may look a bit tired but inside we are a vibrant community of Listening Volunteers who operate our service 24/7, 365 days a year. You can see here a few pictures of our phone room, now reconfigured to 8 socially distanced phone and email stations. We used to have 16. As you can see we have plenty of space in which to do our shifts and we make sure we have plenty of fresh air into the phone room, opening the windows to keep the air flowing through. It can get a bit chilly at times but it keeps us safe!

We sanitize each station between shifts and operate a one way system through the building ensuring we can feel safe and minimize contact with eachother. From this phone room our 400 volunteers give 80,000 volunteering hours a year. We take 70,000 calls for help via the phone or written word and in normal times we see over 4,000 people face to face.  

The night is divided into two shifts and we often stay the night either before or after a shift as many of us live a bus or tube ride away. You can see one of our cosy bedrooms, we have 5. All the used bedding goes straight into the washing machine and someone from the morning shift puts it on when the last overnight person has left. A well honed system!

We have been in our building for just over 30 years and it is in need of refurbishment. It is a true 24/7 building and has been for all this time, imagine the wear and tear. Last year we were about to launch a refurbishment fund, but, as with so many things, the Pandemic got in the way. Later this year we will try again and will be launching a major fundraising appeal to make our building fit for the next 30 years and beyond. 

Once again thank you for supporting us and I hope you enjoyed seeing how we do what we do!

Bedroom
Bedroom
Phone Room
Phone Room
Phone Room 2
Phone Room 2
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Volunteer on the phone
Volunteer on the phone

This year on the 2nd November Central London Samaritans, the founding branch of Samaritans, entered it's 68th year. For all this time our branch has been open and supporting our callers 24/7, 365 days a year without ever closing. A huge achievement with many challenges along the way, but none more so than this year during the global pandemic. 

Not only have we kept our phone lines open, we have supported our callers on email and have been a pilot branch for the new Webchat service. This service further increases the options for our callers to contact us in the way they feel most comfortable. We have kept our training going, moving it online, therefore ensuring that we have new Samaritan volunteers joining us regularly to keep the branch fully manned. We have also developed an online wellbeing programme for the corporate sector to enable them to support their staff during this very difficult time. We are about to start to support schools again, albeit online like everything else! All this delivered by volunteers and as you tell, despite everything we are all going through, the branch remains a vibrant place, full of innovation, passion and dedication.

Having got through the first very strict lockdown earlier in the year, the various countries within the UK entered more lockdowns at different times in November, as cases of Covid-19 began to rise again. The demand for our service is enormous at the moment and we are in our socially distanced phone room 24/7, responding to more callers who are finding life very challenging at the moment. As Christmas approaches we know that it is a time when feelings of stress and loneliness can feel especially acute. We will be there all through the holiday time, ensuring those who need us have someone who will listen to them and support them during their difficult time. 

It is immensely disappointing that our community Christmas fundraising activities are not able to go ahead during this time. At this time of year we usually have many choirs singing for us around the Capital raising money and awareness of our service. However we enormously grateful to you all for the kind donations we have received through GlobalGiving. You are helping our listening volunteers be there for anyone who needs us, 24 hours a day throughout the coming festive period but of course throughout the year. 

 

Thanks to you all from all of us at Central London Samaritans.

Samaritans volunteers
Samaritans volunteers
Volunteer on the phone
Volunteer on the phone
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Since our last report lives for everyone all over the world have changed in a way previously never imagined. In London we went into lockdown on 23rd March and at Central London Samaritans it meant that we had to adapt very quickly to ensure that we were able to keep our service going safely and in compliance with the various guidelines that were being issued almost daily by the government.

 We are proud to say that despite initially losing a third of our 400 volunteers to shielding and self-isolationwe managed to keep our phone lines open 24 hours a day thereby maintaining  our 67 year old record of having never closed. At the outset, in order to keep safe, our duty room with its 16 phone stations had to be restricted to 4 to enable social distancing but we quickly adapted to this. It was a very challenging time for our Listening volunteers as the nature of the calls reflected our own worries and anxieties about the coronavirus and the more general impacts of lockdown. We needed to support each other more than ever

We were lucky enough to receive an emergency Covid-19 grant from Shaftesbury PLC to further re-configure our duty room and make other adjustments to the buildings internal layout. We completely altered the phone room layout to accommodate 8 phone stations, socially distanced around the perimeter of the room, instead of the original 16 facing each other. This entailed an extensive re-wiring exercise, taking down a wall and making new doorways to enable a one-way flow system within the branch. The phone room is now fully operational, and, although we are still around 100 volunteers down, they are all returning at their own pace. 

 Our next challenge is to ensure that we are able to safely return to welcoming our callers who prefer face to face contact. In 2018/19 we had 4,104 visits to the branch so you can see the importance of this service to CLS. This will require yet more building work to reconfigure our existing rooms into safe environments for our callers and volunteers. 

 As you can imagine, our Outreach Program and Community Fundraising activities have had to stop for the time being. However, as in all times of crisis, comes innovation! We are looking at new ways of virtually raising money. For example, our “Sing for Samaritans” programme which involved choirs singing in public places, mainly railway stations, to raise funds for us has historically  been very successful raising  around £18,000 annually. We are now looking at how to do this virtually. Although we know it won’t raise as much as a physical performance, it will once again perform the essential role of raising awareness of our service and enable our choir supporters to remain engaged. 

 We entered our new financial year with a high degree of uncertainty, particularly around fundraising as it was clear that many of our usual fundraising activities would not be available to us. Our community fundraising events which include Sing for Samaritans and which are only possible through the additional time given by our volunteers, usually contributes around £50,000 annually.  Ordinarily we would also hire out meeting space in our building and give various talks to corporates which combined would be expected to generate around £30,000 annually. 

The year ahead is challenging but we are hugely grateful to all of you who have donated to us in the past and to all of you who are thinking of donating to us in the future, with your help we will still be there answering calls 24/7, 365 days a year, leaving no call for help going unanswered.

 


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Just as Christmas is so lonely and isolating for many people we find January to be a bleak month as well. Each year "Blue Monday" is the name given to the third Monday in January which is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. At Samaritans we have re-named this "Brew Monday" and we encourage people to take time out to have a cup of tea and a chat. This year Brew Monday fell on 23rd January and was bigger and better than ever - the tea giant PG Tips partnered with us and supplied us with T-bags, but they were very special T-bags! They created a new twin tea packet, with two tea bags included to reflect the togetherness which is at the heart of our Brew Monday 2020 campaign to "Share the Warmth". They were packaged in a friendly bio degradable packaging too!

Central London Samaritans spent the day at Paddington Station where we gave out T-bags, talked to numerous people and were visited by the Transport Minister Charlotte Vere, Baroness Vere of Norbiton. We also had a few buckets to collect with too of course! Our day was a huge success and brightened up that dull January day. We reached many people as they commuted to and from work, and they were able to take away the T-bags with our freephone number 116123, spreading the word that we are there for everyone 24/7, 365 days a year.

These are challenging times and we are working hard at the moment to ensure that our service continues though the Covid-19 crisis. No call for help will go unanswered although it might take a little longer than normal as our volunteers do their best with reduced numbers. Our fundraising has been severely impacted which is why we are so grateful to all the people that have donated to this campaign on GlobalGiving.

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Our final homeless shift of 2019
Our final homeless shift of 2019

For many people December and the festive period is a time for friends, family and celebration. But for many people it can be the most challenging time of the year. A time of stress or loneliness and when these feelings are much more acute that usual.

Central London Samaritans is fully aware of the need to be there throughout Christmas time and as such we will again be open 24 hours a day every day throughout Christmas and the new year. Volunteers that come in for shifts on christmas day can experience some very difficult conversations, but also plenty of messages of gratitude from those that really need to speak to someone.

Please remember that your kind donations have helped to keep our service running around the clock, whenever people need to speak to a listening volunteer.

This time of year is also a wonderful time to get outside and be a part of our community. Going outside of the branch is a great opportunity for us. We get to raise awareness of the service we provide and remind people that we will again be open throughout the festive peroiod. And we get to offer emotional support in situ for anyone that would benefit from being able to speak with someone there and then - it's constantly surprising how many times we get the chance to have a really good conversation with someone while we're out and about. And we get top work with some great choirs and musicians while we shake our buckets to raise the valuable funds to keep the service running.

We recently had a wonderful evening at St Pancras station where the brilliant Popchoir sang beautifully for a full two hours while we were able to meet with the public and raise funds and awareness.

And then this week we were at Charing Cross station from 7am to 7pm and were able to bring in soime wonderful choirs and our volunteers had a great time meeting the public.

We also had a lovely evening with our friends at Pianoworks, who are based in Leicester Square and their extremely talented performers sang and played and danced all evening and allowed us to talk about the service we provide while the patrons happily donated valuable funds while requesting songs for the team to perform.

The end of the year also allows us to evaluate how our teams and projects have fared over the year. Our homeless team finished on a total of 1713 conversations with members of our local homeless community at local food drops. We are constantly looking to make sure we support the homeless community as much as possible as we are the only service they can regularly use to access emtional support.

We also ran emotional health workshops for 3,270 school pupils in 2019. This is essential work as young people are more aware than ever of mental health issues. In our workshops we get the pupils to talk to us about the pressures that they feel, the coping mechanisms they use and who they can talk to, both in and out of school. We then talk to them about spotting signs of poor mental health in themselves and their friends and share listeningtips for them so that they can help a friend who is struggling.

As always we are enormously grateful for the kind donations we have received through GlobalGiving. Through donating to Central London Samaritans you are helping our listening volunteers to be there for anyone that needs us, 24 hours a day throughout the festive period and throughout the year.

We wish you happy and peaceful holidays and a prosperous new year.

 

    

Entertaining commuters at Charing Cross station
Entertaining commuters at Charing Cross station

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Organization Information

The Samaritans (Central London Branch)

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Twitter: @CLSamaritans
Project Leader:
Caroline Fahy
London, United Kingdom
$31,395 raised of $45,000 goal
 
533 donations
$13,605 to go
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