Customers and staff at Sainsbury’s Bridgemead helped hit the highest total ever in May when the second instalment of a year’s fundraising was handed over to Swindon and District Samaritans.
In total £8,298 was raised from a variety of staff and customer events, from a fashion show and mince pie-eating contest to a Valentine’s flower wrapping service which raised £1,000 over two days.
Sainsbury’s PR ambassador Simon Belcher said The Samaritans were chosen in 2013 after customer nominations were whittled down to a short list of organisations which were invited to make a pitch to the store staff council.
"The presentation by Samaritans was amazing. They explained the need for support that they give to people who are desperate to talk to somebody. What they said touched all of us.
"And the Samaritans’ team have been wonderful partners. Volunteers have worked with our staff throughout the year, and have been really responsive to customers who have stopped to talk as they left the store."
Samaritans volunteer Anne Ferguson with Sainsbury’s fundraisers pictured by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Samaritans director Linda Morgan said the year had been a great experience for all concerned. "Our partnership with Sainsbury has been more than just raising money. It costs £1,200 a week to run the branch so the total for the year is a wonderful outcome and we’d like to thank Sainsbury’s staff and customers.
"But the year has been a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness of our work and to recruit volunteers. We were surprised by the number of people who wanted to talk as they were passing through the store, about what was happening in their lives, or about family and friends who needed support."
Samaritans volunteer Anne Ferguson liaised with staff at Sainsbury’s. She said: "Sue Sainsbury was very supportive and really brought our teams together. Attracting more volunteers to help Samaritans has been so important. We have roles for people who listen on the telephone, and people to help in our charity shop, and supporters who assist with administration and in trustee positions.
"It was humbling talking to members of the public who showed how much Samaritans means to them."
Over the past five years, stores have partnered with local charities and raised over £6 million. During May and June customers nominate their favourite local registered charity. One is selected from the nominations and supported over the next 12 months through fundraising and volunteering.