This July, as part of its month-long awareness raising campaign, Talk To Us, Pendle, Burnley, Craven & Rossendale Samaritans are offering people the chance to become better listeners. On Thursday 14 July, hundreds of Samaritans volunteers from 30 different branches across the North West and North East of England will be challenging travellers at 40 different train stations to up their listening skills, by following some expert Listening Tips.
The mass awareness raising event has been co-ordinated by Samaritans with the support of Northern Railway, Virgin Trains West Coast, Virgin Trains East Coast, TransPennine Express, Merseyrail, and Network Rail. Volunteers will also be sharing their listening expertise in town centres, schools, prisons, fetes, festivals and community events up and down the UK throughout the month of July.
Ian Hartley, director of the Samaritans of Pendle, Burnley, Craven & Rossendale, said: “We listen. That’s what we’re here to do and sometimes it can be challenging. But you don’t have to be a Samaritan to get better at listening to family, friends and colleagues. We’re a culture of people who love to give advice, love to give opinions and quite frankly love the sound of our own voices. But we’re asking people to SHUSH! and listen better. More than 60 years of Samaritans expertise has taught us that just listening can be the greatest gift you can give to somebody.”
Every six seconds, someone in the UK and Ireland contacts Samaritans, and every 90 minutes someone takes their own life. Samaritans believes that listening is crucial to helping people find their way through their problems, and wants to encourage people to seek help early, rather than when they reach a crisis.
Samaritans Listening Tips or S-H-U-S-H!:
- Show you care: focus just on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone
- Have patience: it may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up
- Use open questions: that need more than a yes/no answer, & follow up e.g. ‘Tell me more’
- Say it back: to check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution
- Have courage: don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to leave silence
Will Marsden, Head of Occupational Health and Safety, from Northern Railway said: “We’re proud to be welcoming Samaritans volunteers into our stations to celebrate their national awareness month. We see thousands of people from all walks of life travelling through our stations on a daily basis and challenging them to take the time to listen, and listen more effectively, is a positive message that we’re delighted to be helping Samaritans deliver.”
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “Being listened to gives you a voice, and the courage to say what’s really on your mind. Saying your problems out loud is therapeutic in itself and being listened to has the power to make you feel understood, and that you matter. We can all be better listeners. So many family, work, relationship and even mental health issues are made worse when a person feels they aren’t being listened to. Samaritans is all about being here to listen, and anyone can Talk To Us.”