‘Samaritans are here all over the festive period for anyone who is struggling to cope’.

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Havering’s Director of the Samaritans Arthur Leathley today writes in the Havering Daily.

Christmas is a time of joy and fun for millions of us. A great time to be with family and friends, celebrate Christmas itself or simply enjoy time away from work.

For many people though, Christmas is the worst time of year.

For those that have lost a loved one it’s a reminder that there is an empty chair. For those struggling to make ends meet it’s a time of pressure and worry as the television adverts bombard us with what a perfect Christmas should look like, and for those struggling with physical or mental health issues or financial problems, the additional pressure can often be overwhelming.

They are not at the parties, or at carol services or heading to the shops. They are alone, lonely and sometimes desperate. And that is when Samaritans step in, offering an opportunity to talk to someone and to share the burden a person is feeling.

Samaritans’ trained volunteers in Romford offer a seven day a week service as part of a national network of 201 branches providing 24/7 contact for those in need of support.

Linda, a volunteer at Havering Samaritans, said:

“I lost my own dad close very close to Christmas, so I know how particularly hard this time of year can be, but I want people to know they do not need to be alone with their feelings. Samaritans are here all over the festive period and every other day of the year, for anyone who is struggling to cope’’.

One of the myths about Samaritans is that it only deals with people who are suicidal. It is true that every day the charity does help those considering suicide.

But many more contacts are from people who are suffering distress but are not considering suicide at all. Samaritans wants to be there well before anyone feels suicidal. It may seem a minor problem, but we all know that at the wrong time, even small issues can build up and cause us great distress. Many people are not able to talk to people close to them about their worries, or may not even have someone they can confide in.

Samaritans gives opportunities for people to phone, email or to call into the Havering branch at 107 North St in Romford to talk through any problem. There is no subject that Samaritans would refuse to discuss, and all information is kept confidential.

That helps people talk, knowing that whatever they say will not go any further. There is no-one making a judgment about what you say, or what you have done. It is your chance to talk, and all the Samaritans volunteer will do is listen, and give you as much time as you need.

The phone service is free on 116123, and you can call at any time of day or night or email jo@samaritans.org

Havering volunteers are part of the national campaign, ‘Real People, Real Stories’, which aims particularly to encourage men to seek help when they face tough times.

Volunteers will be at Romford rail station on December 19, drawing attention to the campaign.

There is still a stigma around men seeking help when they’re finding life tough. A survey by Samaritans found that two in five men in Great Britain do not seek support when they need to because they prefer to solve their problems themselves, and this difficulty sharing is a key reason why suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, with men age 20-59 being those most at risk.

You can find out more about the men behind the campaign by visiting www.samaritans.org/realpeoplerealstories. You can also support by sharing the video on Twitter @samaritans using the hashtag #RealPeopleRealStories.

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