Samaritans offers listening vouchers as a Christmas present

Give the Gift of Listening vouchers have been created by the Samaritans to encourage people to open up and talk about their problems.

Joe Lepper | 13th Dec 18

People are being invited to give e-vouchers to a friend or family member to let them know they are available to talk if they have a problem, as part of a Samaritans Christmas fundraiser.

The vouchers are available from the charity’s website, which asks for a donation in exchange for the voucher, which people can share with a loved one.

The charity says the present is a perfect way to show to friends, who may be experiencing a challenging time, of the importance of opening up.

“Samaritans volunteers will be making sure there’s a listening ear day and night again this year for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed and needs to talk – throughout the festive period, including Christmas Day,” says a Samaritans’ statement.

“The charity is also asking all of us to give the gift of listening ourselves this Christmas, by encouraging friends and family going through a difficult time to open up. They need to know that it’s OK to not be OK, even at this time of year.

“To make it easier, Samaritans has produced a set of Give the Gift of Listening vouchers to download from its website, offering time to listen as a present.  A pair of novelty socks won’t save a life but listening can make a huge difference.”

Among those to call the charity’s support line over the festive period is Emma Gale, who felt suicidal in Christmas 2016 after enduring years of health problems.

“I felt ill, very lonely and a burden to everyone around me. I decided my family would be far better off without me and made plans to end my life,” she said.

After driving to a quiet spot, I decided to call Samaritans for the first and only time in my life. I just needed someone to talk to, so I didn’t feel so alone.

“The impact of that call was huge, it was a listening non-judgemental ear. From there my life completely turned around. The next day I went to a hospital appointment and I got a diagnosis for a rare genetic condition. I will never forget what that Samaritan did for me that Christmas, they gave me the biggest gift possible – the gift of life.”

Christmas is a busy time for the Samaritans

Samaritans responded to more than 400,000 calls for help during December 2017, via phone, email and text across he UK and Ireland. Of these 11,000 were made on Christmas Day, with a third citing loneliness and isolation.

The listening vouchers are also being promoted on social media via the hashtag #GiveTheGift and Emma’s story is the focus of a Youtube video released this week.