HELP-LINE charity Samaritans’ 60th anniversary has left a member of its Worthing branch feeling “proud as punch.”
Nationally, more than five million people contacted Samaritans last year to discuss feelings of distress, despair and suicidal thoughts; the Worthing branch received 24,470 of these.
David Exley, 65, has been a voluntary listener for Worthing Samaritans for five years.
He said: “We are proud as punch. When you think it started with one telephone call in London in 1953 and now we are up to five million.”
David sadly lost both his brother Tim and his son James to suicide.
“Selfishly, it helps me. I enjoy being a Samaritan. I hope I have been of help to some people,” he said.
Annually, Worthing Samaritans also receive around 800 e-mails, 1,000 texts and 519 door visits.
The Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Samaritans continues to provide an excellent service for those who are especially vulnerable and in difficulty.
“Over the years they have been a vital source of support, advice and comfort for people.”
He added he was a huge admirer of the organisation and wished it well for the next 60 years.
The Worthing branch was set up 44 years ago and currently has around 100 volunteers on its books, 70 per cent of which are women.
David said: “At the moment the turn-over for volunteers seems to be two or three years and then people move on. If you get to four years you tend to stay, it becomes part of your life.”
The branch holds two recruitment sessions each year, which David described as “warts and all”, and then if they are still interested they will begin training for the role.
“Our mission is to reduce the number of suicides.
“Around 78 per cent of our calls are non-suicidal so the majority of time we are helping people who are in a bad place but who will come out ok,” said David.
Eleven new volunteers were inducted last week, which David called “fantastic”.
To speak confidentially with a Worthing Samaritan, contact 01903 205555 or for a Samaritan outside of Worthing contact 08457909090.