Samaritans like me will be here to listen this Christmas – Eddie Carmichael

City man Eddie Carmichael shares why he’ll be one of 1500 volunteers ready to help on Christmas Day

Monday, 16th December 2019, 6:00 am
Samaritans volunteer Eddie Carmichael is ready for his stint on Christmas day

This festive season volunteers like me at Samaritans branches in Scotland and right across the UK and Ireland will answer more than 300,000 calls for help, including over 10,000 on Christmas Day itself. This year – as in previous years – I’ll be at Samaritans Edinburgh branch, one of around 1500 Samaritans volunteers doing a shift on Christmas Day.

Volunteering over the holidays has become a festive tradition for me. I know that life’s problems don’t melt away with the switching on of the Christmas lights. And for people who are struggling the pressure to live up to our picture perfect vision for the festive season can make this a tough time of year.

There are all sorts of reasons someone might be struggling to cope – from worries about money, debt or job security, to bereavement or relationship breakdown. For people experiencing loneliness or isolation, the holidays can make these feelings more acute. And with many of the usual support services closed over Christmas, Samaritans is an even more vital lifeline.

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Whatever the reason someone reaches out to Samaritans, I’m always glad to be there to answer. It’s a real privilege to have someone trust you with their story and perhaps to open up about how they are really feeling for the first time.

It may be difficult for anyone feeling alone or hopeless to believe it at the time but I know that someone’s story can change. By giving someone the time and space to talk and by listening, without judgement, you can help them to know that they are not alone. You can support them to think through their options and, hopefully, find a path through whatever challenges they are facing to a happier future.

We can all struggle at Christmas and if you are finding things tough, chances are you’re not alone. You may be surprised to find that a family, friend or co-worker is feeling the same way. Talking about how you’re feeling – whether it’s to family member, friend or a confidential service like Samaritans – really can make a difference. The festive season is also a great opportunity to check in with family or friends, reminding them that they are not alone by sending a message or reaching out to a neighbour.

By making time and space to talk and to listen this Christmas we can make a difference that will last long after the tinsel and lights come down.

If you are finding things tough this festive season, for whatever reason, you don’t have to face it alone. Samaritans will be there to listen, day or night, throughout the holidays, including on Christmas Day itself.

And if you are looking for a way to help people who may be struggling, please consider supporting Samaritans’ Christmas Appeal at www.samaritans.org. A donation of just £5 can help our service keep running, so that there is always a volunteer like me, there to listen, when people need it most.

Samaritans’ service is free, confidential and anonymous. Anyone can contact Samaritans for free on 116 123, email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org to find your local branches’ opening hours. You can call for free on any landline or mobile, even if you don’t have phone credit and calls to us won’t show up on your phone bill.