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partnerships:articles:samarit [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +A cry for help answered on the Internet
 + by [Mark Walker](mailto:​
 +### The Samaritans e-mail counselling service
 +The first Samaritans branch was opened in Central London in 1953 and
 +there are now over 200 branches across the UK and Ireland. Each is run
 +entirely by volunteers and provides a listening ear to many thousands of
 +people every year.\
 + The traditional telephone service has now been joined by an e-mail
 +system, currently dealing with over 150 enquiries each week. The idea of
 +offering counselling over the Internet was first piloted at the end of
 +1994, with the full system launched in May 1995. It has proved highly
 +successful - and provided a new avenue for The Samaritans'​ work.\
 + Most users of The Samaritans e-mail service are men under 35 - the
 +group most at risk of committing suicide. Over the past 10 years, the
 +number of males aged 15 to 24 killing themselves has increased by 10 per
 +cent and the service forms part of a campaign to reach out to young
 +people - a campaign which also includes schools and colleges outreach
 +and regular attendance at festivals such as Glastonbury.\
 + Emma Borton of The Samaritans says that most users are from the UK,
 +although messages are received from all over the world. "We find that
 +many people using the service are sending their messages from
 +educational establishments. They are usually very well-written and the
 +senders are often already working through issues for themselves,
 +although this may be the first time they have felt comfortable with
 +asking for help."​\
 + "​Many people appear to find it easier to express themselves using their
 +computers than they do talking on the telephone. The process of writing
 +a message is more considered than a telephone conversation,​ when it can
 +often take several sessions to get to the root of problem."​\
 + The Samaritans aims to answer every message within 24 hours, although
 +it is often quicker. A central mailbox is opened several times each day,
 +with messages automatically distributed to the growing number of local
 +branches now participating in the service. They are answered by
 +volunteers who have been trained in using e-mail. An average of six to
 +eight messages are exchanged for each enquiry.\
 + An important part of the service is the option of remaining anonymous.
 +By sending their message to a special address it is possible for the
 +user to strip out their name and e-mail address - without losing the
 +ability to return the message correctly. This is one of the ways that it
 +has been possible to reflect the basic principles of the Samaritans'​
 +telephone service.\
 + ​Despite minimal promotion the e-mail service continues to grow in
 +popularity, and The Samaritans is responding by upgrading its technical
 +resources and developing the network of on-line branches and trained
 +volunteers. As use of the Internet grows it is expected to become an
 +increasingly important way means of seeking help.\
 + \* The Samaritans have two e-mail addresses:\
 + Or, if callers wish to remain anonymous:\
 + For general enquiries about the development of the service call 01753
 +532713, or e-mail (the full stop after admin is
 +apparently deliberate)\
 + Mark Walker
 +-   ​[Visit The Samaritans web
 +    site](http://​​~careware/​samaritans/​Welcome%20)
 +-   [Back to the Guide to Community Internet](../​pubs/​guidel)
partnerships/articles/samarit.txt ยท Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)