the best volunteer organization i’ve ever worked for

It’s not really ‘done’ to talk about your work as a Samaritan but that has the unfortunate side-effect of scaring off potential volunteers. Which is a great shame because it really is one of the most satisfying and well-supported volunteer jobs I’ve ever done. The Samaritans do great work for their callers but are chronically short of new volunteers.

It’s not as depressing as you might imagine. The phone room has a lovely atmosphere and despite the fact that you’re face-to-face (or ear-to-earpiece) with some very sad stories, being open and equanimous not wincing away from other people’s upset is a tremendously empowering experience. Though Sams is expressly non-religious I feel the Buddhist quality of ‘metta’ develops massively in that room.

5 Comments

  1. Addison DeWitt

    May 12, 2008 at 3:09 am

    I worked for the Samaritans once.
    It nearly drove me to suicide. True story.

  2. St

    May 12, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Alistair,
    I give you a lot of credit to have the ability to sit and
    listen to other peoples stories and try and give them help
    and hope that things will get better.
    I don’t think I could handle it because I can get emotional
    when I see or hear other peoples problems.
    Somehow I see you just being cool and clam and able to
    handle anything that is thrown your way.
    You deserve a pat on the back for taking the time and
    having the courage to help your fellow man.

  3. Peter

    May 26, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Had thought the Sams, to use your abbreviation, was a
    christian institution considering there name is taken from
    Jesus´ parable?

    Interesting website and blog.

    PS! Like watching you on old shows on BBC Prime!

  4. John 359

    May 26, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Alistair

    Was a Samaritan for many years – the best thing I’ve ever done. As an ‘open’ gay it was not quite the done thing when I started …. but there are so many say folks just needing someone to listen to their woes … a trouble shared. Keep up the good work man.

  5. charlotte brady

    May 28, 2008 at 11:15 am

    hi alistair
    i think people come up with all kinds of excuses as to why
    they cant help others…me included…
    iv always thought of volunteering with the
    samatharians but keep putting it off. iv had friends that
    commit suicide and the feeling that it could have been
    prevented has left me with a drive to help others. people
    need to look around them because someone close could be
    suffering…on a lighter note though i can imagine that
    you would brighten up anyones day 🙂

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