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Samaritans launch plea for Bradford volunteers
They provide a listening ear to those in crisis. While recruitment sessions are held four times a year to keep their bank of volunteers buoyant, increasing demand could lead to the Samaritans in Bradford facing their own crisis.
“Bradford has always been a major branch within the network. We aren’t any more because we haven’t got the volunteers,” says a spokesman for the Bradford branch.
“We are desperately short of volunteers in Bradford. The Bradford branch covers a very big geographical area and we will take around 1,500 calls a month. Of those 1,500 calls 350 to 400 are expressing suicidal feelings.
“We don’t try and fix people’s lives; we do not give advice. We give people space to sort their own problems out.”
The spokesman said he didn’t know the reason why they are so short of volunteers. “I have been here for 15 years and when I first started we had 140 volunteers in the branch,” he said.
He said they needed 100 volunteers to retain a regular rota. “And we are down to less than 60,” he said.
The spokesman says one of the reasons why they may struggle to recruit is the commitment required to be a volunteer. They undergo training which involves one three-hour shift every week and a six-hour night shift once a month, but they are well supported by colleagues and staff.
The spokesman said: “One of the great things about the branch is the level of support you get. Fellow volunteers will ask if you are OK, there is a support network behind it.”
He said there were many reasons why the branch may be experiencing an increasing number of calls.
He said: “There is the state of the economy. There are a lot of people with a lack of direction. Younger people are worrying about jobs – there is more pressure on my daughter than there was on me when I was her age and there is probably more pressure on me than there was on my father at my age.
“There is a lot of pressure to perform. We have become that kind of society and we are not as social as we used to be.”
He believed the pressure people are under with work has taken away our ability to neighbour.
“There was a time when you would go round to your neighbour and sit and tell them all your problems but we are not able to have time with one another these days as much,” he said.
In the Autumn the branch is introducing a Samaritans initiative into the city. Feet on the Street was developed by the Bridgend branch in Wales following a spate of suicides.
The spokesman said the aim was for Samaritans to have a presence on the city’s streets raising the profile of the organisation.
For more information about the Bradford branch, or to find out more about volunteering, call (01274) 547547.