Christmas may be a time for festive cheer and spending time with loved ones but new figures from Samaritans reveal that caller concerns about family have risen for the fifth year in a row.
So far throughout 2021* family worries have made up 34% of emotional support contacts with the charity across the UK and Republic of Ireland – a 26% increase (7 percentage points) over the past five years.**
Mental health/illness is holding steady as the top overall concern at 46%, with isolation and loneliness ranking third at 28%, and relationship problems follows on 24%.
Now, Isle of Man Samaritans is launching its Christmas campaign to ensure volunteers are on-hand to provide emotional support throughout the festive season, which can be a particularly difficult time.
This Christmas, Samaritans volunteers will respond to more than 250,000 calls for help. Volunteers in the Isle of Man and across the country will be there round-the-clock to make sure there’s always someone available to listen to anyone who is feeling alone or struggling this festive season.
Sinead O’Connor from Isle of Man Samaritans said: “Whilst many look forward to the Christmas period, at Samaritans we know this time of year can actually be a huge challenge for some people.
“Our amazing volunteers will, as they do every hour of every day, be giving their time this Christmas to anyone who needs support. I think that is a pretty special gift to give. I’m so proud of the work Samaritans does, and I know what a huge difference it makes to people’s lives. So, for anyone who is struggling this Christmas time, Samaritans is here for them, for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
One Christmas caller, who credits Samaritans with saving her life, has been chosen as the face of the charity’s latest festive campaign.
Stephanie, 33, phoned Samaritans regularly just after Christmas 2015 when she was really struggling.
“Christmas always felt like a particularly difficult time. One year on Christmas Eve, it all got too much and I tried to take my life. I woke up the next day feeling very unwell, but I got dressed and went to visit my family for Christmas. I became good at putting on a front.”
Stephanie, a celebrity manicurist to the stars who works with Little Mix, Leona Lewis and Disney continued: “I look back at the pictures and I’m smiling, but I wasn’t OK at all. That feeling built up and spilled over into the New Year. I didn’t know who to speak to, so one night I called Samaritans and let everything out. I remember feeling embarrassed and it took me a long time to get everything out. I am so thankful to that volunteer. He saved my life that night. I realised I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.”
Stephanie is now calling on the public to ‘Be A Samaritans Christmas Star’ this season. To make a donation to Isle of Man Samaritans please visit samaritans.org/donate-christmas and select Isle of Man at checkout. As little as £5 could enable Isle of Man Samaritans answer a call for help from somebody struggling this Christmas.
To find out other ways you can support Isle of Man Samaritans please visit: Isle of Man Samaritans
* Figures to November 2021, all figures in the release are taken from Samaritans eLog data, which is collected anonymously ** up from 27% in 2017