Samaritans’ volunteers take call every six minutes

by Aishling Conway

DUBLIN Samaritans’ volunteers have doubled their hours to cope with pandemic pressure as they take a call from someone in distress every six minutes.

The ‘listening’ service provides a lifeline to thousands each year who are troubled, in distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide.

Run by 290 unpaid volunteers across the capital, many have doubled their listening hours to ensure that the service can remain open 24/7 at this crucial time. 

A volunteer usually commits to a three hour shift every week and one overnight per month. But Covid-19 fallout means many are now doing two shifts weekly and two overnights a month.

Director of Dublin Samaritans, Anne Vaughan, said: “Ordinary people do not experience anxiety between the set hours of nine to five only.

“As we all know, pressures can become overwhelming at any time of the day or night and it is vital that we can continue to offer a confidential and non-judgemental listening service to those who need it… 24/7.”

“People who call us are from every walk of life and age bracket. They talk to us about a range of topics including loneliness, isolation, relationships, finance, abuse, the future, and, in the last year, the struggles of living through lockdown features in almost every call.”

Dublin Samaritans is the largest branch in Ireland and provides around 20% of the total listening time – over 14,000 hours of listening in 2020.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer participates in an interview and follow-up selection process. Potential volunteers undergo comprehensive training before they can take calls.

The organisation also engages with people via email and offers one-to-one personal sessions when restrictions allow.

Like all charities the Dublin Samaritans has seen a drop in fund-raising opportunities and in donations. Dublin Samaritans is volunteer run, employing just one full-time and one part-time administrator to organise the running of the branch.

“If something is troubling you, no matter how large or small you feel it may be, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.” concluded Anne.

You can contact the Samaritans – even without any phone credit – on Freephone 116 123 or visit


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