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Anniversary testament to hard work of volunteers.

IT is only with the generous support and commitment of trained volunteers that the service has kept going for the past 50 years.

Just as callers to Samaritans cover all ages and sections of society, its volunteers are also diverse in ages, jobs and backgrounds.

Samaritan volunteers come from all parts of the city and are aged from their 20s into their 80s. All are carefully selected and trained before "going live" and answering calls to the service.

A 63-year-old Birmingham branch volunteer, who wanted only to be known as John, said: "The Samaritans saved the life of a dear friend of mine, and I saw the work they do and I was attracted to it.

"So, when I had the opportunity, I volunteered and was trained to carry out Samaritan work."

Chair of Samaritans service, Stephen Hoddell, said the city's landmark reflected the importance of the service, even today when forums, social networking and a wealth of internet advice exists.

"Birmingham Samaritans is marking 50 years of support to the local community," he said, "This is a milestone year which must be recognised as it is a testament to the dedication of all our volunteers and a true reflection of the importance of a service like Samaritans."

Mrs Rutter added: "Our milestone of 50 years is worth marking because we can pause to reflect on the fact Samaritans' unique service has been offered continuously to the people of Birmingham since we took our first call on October 1, 1962.

"In those days, about 50 volunteers took phone calls and also talked with callers face to face; these days we have about 160 volunteers and they have added email and text messaging to the means by which people in distress can contact us.

"Callers can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"I am incredibly proud of every Samaritans volunteer that has helped deliver the service over the last 50 years.

"Services like ours are needed now more than ever as modern life has not eclipsed the human need to be listened to, supported and helped through difficult times."

Samaritan volunteers are available 24/7 to offer confidential, non-judgemental support to anyone who is feeling down, unhappy, anxious or stressed.

Samaritans in Birmingham can be contacted by calling 0121 666 6644, emailing jo@samaritans.org; or face-to-face at the Bow Street centre.

The city branch also provides a support network in the local community, by working with schools, prisons and railway stations to deliver outreach programmes too.

Visit www.samaritans.org for more information.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 6, 2012
Words:427
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