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Could you provide a listening ear to help the suicidal?
Members of the South West Hertfordshire branch of the Samaritans are on the hunt for volunteers to boost their numbers.
Operating from St John’s Road, Watford, the group covers calls from Watford, St Albans, Hertsmere and Three Rivers.
As it costs in the region of £30,500 per year to run, the organisation relies on volunteers to answer calls.
Newly-appointed branch director Paul Beaton, who has volunteered for the group for more than 11 years, stressed how important it is, now more than ever, to have Samaritans in today’s society.
Mr Beaton, 65, said: "It’s a great feeling, knowing that you are providing a listening ear in someone’s time of need.
"It is so important people know that however troubled they feel, there is someone to talk to, to try to help them when they need it most.
"We live in a society where people rarely talk to each other. Everyone is in a hurry to go about their own business. But I’m a strong believer that a problem shared is a problem halved. That’s what the Samaritans are here to do."
At present the group has more than 100 volunteers, all from different backgrounds, to answer phone calls or meet face-to-face with troubled residents at their Watford premises.
But Mr Beaton stressed that not all these volunteers are active and more are needed to ensure supply meets demand.
He said: "I originally became a volunteer because it got to a point where people were always sharing their problems with me and although I couldn’t offer advice per se, they felt relieved that someone was there to listen to them.
"In fact, many remarked what a good listener I was. So, along with my wife Cathy, who works as a nurse, we trained to become Samaritans.
"I find the role very rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, it can be tough, we get a huge volume of calls, and some of them can be hard to deal with. But we have training in place for our volunteers and we support one another.
"The main thing to remember though, is how important it is to help your fellow man. And if that’s giving up the odd evening to allow someone to share their problems and hopefully feel better, then it’s all worthwhile."
Listening volunteers are expected to commit to four hours per fortnight and one four and a half hour night duty about once a month.
There are also volunteers who support the branch in other ways, such as by fundraising or administrative help.
To find out how you can become a Samaritan, call Paul Beaton on 01923 233614.
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