Growing numbers seek solace from the Samaritans

THE number of people ringing, emailing or calling to the Samaritans in Kilkenny and Carlow is increasing by 7% per year. Chairman of the Samaritans in this region, Donal Fennelly told a well attended AGM of the group on Tuesday night of last week in the Newpark Hotel that 10,000 people in Carlow-Kilkenny contact them each year.

THE number of people ringing, emailing or calling to the Samaritans in Kilkenny and Carlow is increasing by 7% per year. Chairman of the Samaritans in this region, Donal Fennelly told a well attended AGM of the group on Tuesday night of last week in the Newpark Hotel that 10,000 people in Carlow-Kilkenny contact them each year.

“Increasingly we are being contacted through emails on jo@samaritans.org which is a very valuable service for those who maybe find it difficult to verbalise their feelings or distress especially in areas such as bullying, examination stress and isolation,” he said.

Callers are very welcome to visit the branch in person between the hours of 2pm to 8 pm weekdays and between 5 and 8pm at weekends. People often like to sit down face to face with another human being rather than talking on the telephone.

The Samaritans office in Kilkenny city is just at the pedestrian lights on Dean Street. Mr Fennelly explained that there are 80 highly trained volunteers, who support callers in an understanding and non-judgemental way.

“Current we have initiatives hoping to reach out to suicide risk groups which are older men living in rural isolation and you males aged between 15 and 35 years old.

“We have also written to all the secondary schools in our area asking if we can come in and talk to their students and staff about their emotional well being,” he added.

“Like all charitable organisations we need funds to sustain our level of service and currently it costs approximately €50,000 to operate our premises every year. We are very grateful to the HSE who provide a degree of funding. One of our great fundraising successes has been our Charity Samaritan shop in Kieran Street which is also run by support volunteers.

“Needless to say the above support does not nearly cover our costs and so we have to run fundraising events throughout Kilkenny and Carlow and we are always very appreciative of the generosity and support of the public.

The Carlow-Kilkenny organisation will be hosting the Samaritan Annual Conference in 2013 which will bring about 300 delegates to Kilkenny. “Even though it involves a lot of work it is a great opportunity for us to raise our profile within Kilkenny and surrounding counties,” Mr Fennelly said.

“We are always looking for new volunteers and anyone interested should contact us, please. Supporting people on the phones may not be for you, but there are other areas in the branch that we can use your skills so do feel free to get in touch with us and we will be glad to talk about the current opportunities we have,” he added.

There are 20 Samaritan branches in the Irish region. Kilkenny opened in 1995. The Rev. John Finn was the first director of the Kilkenny Branch and it moved to the current premises in Dean Street in May 2009 which was opened by President McAleese.