STUDENT VOICES: A Student’s Experience of Volunteering with Samaritans

web banner bottom

I am a second year nursing student at Brighton University, based at Falmer campus. I have been volunteering with the Brighton, Hove and District branch of Samaritans for just over two years now.

A common misconception is that Samaritans is a religious organisation. The organisation was given the name back in the 1950s by the then tabloid press, the link being made between the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ and the fact that the organisation started its life in the back room of a church in London. Samaritans today is not a religious organisation and has over 200 branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans is a registered charity that offers support to anyone going through a difficult time in his or her life. It is a safe place where anything can be discussed in complete confidence via telephone, email, text or face to face within the branch.

Volunteers come from a variety of different backgrounds, which is great as I’ve been able to meet lots of people that I may have never come across in my everyday life. The volunteers that make up the branches reflect the towns that they are situated in, so the Brighton, Hove and District branch has volunteers from all ages and walks of life, including students. In order for the branch to be open 24/7, volunteers commit to 15 credits a month, which includes one unsociable shift per month and one weekend shift every 6 weeks. Shifts are booked using a web-based rota, and I have found it easy to fit these in around my studies and social life.

I first expressed an interest in volunteering with Samaritans as I have had some personal experience with mental illness. I was lucky enough to be supported through a difficult time and wanted the opportunity to be there for other people. It has been a real privilege at times to talk things through with people, especially when I have been the first person a caller has been able to discuss their concerns with. Obviously some very difficult topics can come up, but you are never alone on shift and there is a fantastic support network within each branch.

The training I received has enabled me to develop many skills over the past couple of years, including active listening and resilience. I have gained confidence within myself, and am comfortable in building a rapport with others. Samaritans don’t give advice, which I find can be quite freeing as it gives the opportunity to really explore how a caller is feeling without having to tell them what to do, or offer an opinion.

The process from selection to completing training, mentoring and becoming a full member of the branch can take as long as a year.  There are 30 hours of initial training spread over 6 half or full day sessions, followed by a period where you are mentored by an experienced volunteer. This can be hard working out how to fit in shifts together when you are on different weekly work/life patterns, but once the mentored period is over, there is more freedom and flexibility to choose the shifts that fit in with your lifestyle.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit the website and click on Volunteer at this Branch to receive an information pack and an invite to an information event. Each event lasts between an hour and an hour and a half, and is held in the Brighton Hove & District Samaritans branch located by Hove train station.

By Simon England

Web Banner top - Talk To Us

The Verse Staff

Next Post

FASHION: The British Fashion Awards 2015

Tue Nov 24 , 2015
Last night, the London coliseum was host to the The British Fashion Awards 2015. The awards take place annually, and sees the collection of the most influential people in the fashion industry, to celebrate those that have achieved significantly over the course of the year. It is no surprise that […]

Editorial Team

Editor In Chief & Creative Editor

Charley Gale
contactverse@gmail.com

News Editor

Benjamin George
versenews@gmail.com

Entertainment Editor

Caitlin Quigley
verseentertain@gmail.com

Arts Editor

Ramsha Khan
versethearts@gmail.com

Sports Editor

Gerald O’Brien
versesports@gmail.com

Student Voice Editor

Liberty Gatcombe
verstudentvoice@gmail.com

Social Media Managers

Meg Compton & Lottie Bulmer
versecommunicate@gmail.com

 

About us

The Verse is run by students, for students. If you’re studying at University of Brighton and you’d like to get involved by writing for us or becoming a sub-editor, we welcome you to contact us via email.

The Verse is funded and supported by Brighton Students’ Union.

The views expressed on The Verse online newspaper do not necessarily represent the views of Brighton Students’ Union, its management or employees. For more information or for any enquiries, please contact the Marketing and Communications Team at bsucommunications@brighton.ac.uk