The Swindon branch of the Samaritans is appealing to more people to consider volunteering with its school’s support project.
Busy mum Cerian Owens, who coordinates Samaritans’ schools work, said: “I’ve been a volunteer for about eighteen months and I can’t imagine not being a Samaritan.
"I had my own troubles as a teenager so this is a great way for me to give back; even with young children I don’t find the hours difficult.”
The schools project is an important way of raising awareness about the service among the younger generation.
Cerian added: “We talk to groups of 14 to 18 year olds about emotional health, self-harm and what they can expect from the Samaritans such as confidentiality, the 24/7/365 availability and the fact that we don’t judge and don’t give advice, we just listen.”
Given the worrying level of male suicide rates in middle-age Cerian is also hoping to launch a specific programme aimed at helping boys become more comfortable about expressing their emotions. For this she requires more volunteers.
She said: “It would be great to have two outreach groups to go into schools, one to do the usual presentation and the other to help boys understand that expressing their emotions is a strength rather than a weakness.”
To find out more about what is involved, there is an information event on Saturday 7 September, 10.30am to 12pm, at Swindon Samaritans HQ, 6 Curtis Street, SN1 5JU