The Health Minister, Robin Swann, has visited local volunteers from Coleraine and District Samaritans to thank them for the vital work they are doing to support those in need.
The visit took place ahead of Samaritans Awareness Day 24/7, which takes place every year on 24 July. The date is used to highlight that Samaritans are available 24/7 to listen to anyone who is struggling to cope.
Speaking following the visit, Minister Swann said: “Samaritans in Coleraine have been providing this essential service for over 50 years and I was privileged to meet some of the team yesterday. The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for many people. The impact on emotional wellbeing and mental health will continue to be felt for many months and years to come.
“The service that Samaritans provides ensures a listening ear for those who are most in need. During this challenging period it is essential that people know there is help available when they need it. Encouraging people to talk about their problems is the first important step in dealing with mental health issues.”
The Samaritans provide confidential emotional support to any person, who is suicidal or despairing, and work to increase public awareness of issues around suicide and depression. Trained volunteers provide the support service.
David McKeown, Director of Samaritans Coleraine said: “Samaritans volunteers have been there for others throughout the pandemic, and the challenges that many people have faced because of the pandemic are continuing and won’t necessarily ease with restrictions lifting.
“Other people may find returning to everyday life more challenging than others. Samaritans is encouraging people to offer a listening ear to anyone they’re concerned about.”
Recognising the commitment of Samaritans volunteers, Minister Swann said: “I want to pay tribute to the Samaritans team who dedicate their time to helping others. The incredible volunteers I met in Coleraine come from all walks of life and should be commended for the vital role they play in ensuring that those who need support get it.”
Samaritans can be contacted at any time on Freephone 116 123.