Redundancy and benefits worries see increase in calls to the Samaritans (From The Advertiser Series)
Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Redundancy and benefits worries see increase in calls to the Samaritans
REDUNDANCIES and benefits worries have prompted an increasing number of calls to Darlington Samaritans, who are urging the local community to help.
The centre on Woodland Road needs to raise £25,000 annually to operate and is in serious need of more volunteers as the number of people calling the helpline has recently increased by 15 per cent.
Darlington MP Jenny Chapman visited the branch today (Friday, March 15) and heard how the volunteers are receiving more calls from people losing their jobs and from those worried about the upcoming changes to the benefits system.
Liz McAllister, director of Darlington Samaritans, said: “At the moment we are getting more calls from people who were in managerial positions, who have lost their jobs, are struggling to pay the mortgage and struggling with the impact on their status in society.
“It is causing a huge amount of distress and despair.”
The group most at risk of suicide are men aged between 30 and 55-years-old and Mrs McAllister urged Darlington residents not to use the Samaritans as a last resort, but to contact them before things reach breaking point.
Gloria Wilson, deputy director for volunteer care, added: “The calls have started about the "bedroom tax", especially from disabled people; they are panicking.
“People have not sussed out what the process is going to be, they feel that they will have to move out and it is causing real concern.”
Darlington Samaritans have operated in the town for more than 40 years, with volunteers not only manning phone lines but also visiting schools and taking part in Station Watch to try and deter suicides on the railway line.
Ms Chapman praised the work being done by the charity, noting that Darlington is the top branch in the country when it comes to responding to text messages and emails from people in need.
She said: “Darlington Samaritans provide an essential service to people in crisis and I will work to support them in any way I can.
“Fundraising is going to be a priority; we want them to continue to be able to support more people in the coming years.”
An open day is being held at the centre on Sunday, March 24 at 2pm for people to learn more about volunteering. Anybody in need who wants to talk to the Samaritans can contact 08457 909090 24 hours a day.