|Local Samaritans celebrate their golden jubilee|
A shoulder to lean on for 50 years straight
What kind of person would be a Samaritan? Who would want to spend their free time listening to people talk about their depression, losing their jobs, losing their loved ones, losing their sanity? Luckily, lots of people would.
The organisation was founded by Chad Varah. He was a young vicar in London at the time, and through his work in the parishes he had been witness to the extremes of human trauma people were going through – many of them suffering in silence. Slowly, his determination to offer people an outlet for their emotions grew.
On 2nd November 1953 the first ever telephone helpline took its first call, a month later an article in the Daily Mirror referred to a “Good Samaritan telephone service” ….. and that’s how it all began ….. fifty years on, it continues, doing the work of supporting people through their most difficult times.
Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Samaritans carries out this vision in West London. The volunteers listen to people’s stories. They let people lean on them. People talk of unrequited love, domestic violence, difficulty with exams, child abuse, boredom with life, job loss, bereavement, lost pets and of course, people sometimes speak of a decision to end their lives.
Samaritans is an organisation full of surprising people – and the surprise is how normal they all are. Seems like a lot of people expect to see psychologists, chin scratchers, people with Freud beards, tweed jackets, suede shoes. In fact, a meeting at Ealing, Hounslow and Hammersmith Samaritans will be full of the sort of people you see in your supermarket or on the Tube. They aren’t heroes. They aren’t gurus. They’re all ages, all professions, with just one thing in common: they know how to listen.
And last weekend they all came together to celebrate. Fifty years is a big deal. It’s nice to think that they’ve been providing such an important service to the community for that long. Any excuse to celebrate is nice… and what better excuse than their golden jubilee!
Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow Samaritans receives generous donations from the community and local businesses in order to keep the branch in operation. Quaker Oats, Waitrose and Hasbro all donated raffle prizes for the night.
Held at Ealing Cricket Club, the night was a big success and both the Mayor of Ealing, Ian Potts, and Stephen Pound MP joined in the celebrations and thanked the volunteers for their contribution to the community. Jack Gratus, Chairman of the Ealing Branch said “Our 50th birthday year is about more than just celebrating the achievements so far, we want to look forward to our future. In a society where suicide is still one of the biggest killers, particularly of young people, we will be looking closely at how we respond to the changing needs of people in emotional distress over the next 50 years and beyond.”
August 20, 2004