Volunteers from the Belfast branch of Samaritans will be supporting an event on Tuesday July 24 in St Anne’s Cathedral.
This is part of a nationwide push called The Big Listen to raise funds for Samaritans and show how really listening to another person can be the first step to saving a life.
The Cathedral wants to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless people who sleep on the streets close to the building and to signpost Samaritans as a support charity which can provide much needed emotional support to those in need. The Big Listen will culminate in a marathon event kicking off at midday on 24th July – chosen to reflect the availability of Samaritans’ 24–hour emotional support services.
St Anne’s Cathedral’s Events and Marketing Officer Holly Wilson said the event would highlight issues facing rough sleepers, some of whom may be in need of mental health support.
“The Cathedral would like to step up and help in any way that we can. On the day of the Samaritans’ UK–wide Big Listen event, any money the Cathedral makes will be donated to the Samaritans. The admission fee will be donated if anyone wants to come into the Cathedral for a tour, but also if anyone just wants to pop in and donate any amount big or small, all money received will be donated to the Samaritans at the end of the day.”
The Cathedral has started to attach ‘Messages of Hope’ along its railings similarly to those that run along the Foyle Bridge; it is asking people to drop in their messages or attach them to the railings to show support to anyone who might be suffering. Some of the Samaritans’ volunteer Belfast team will be in the Cathedral on the day if anyone needs to talk to someone.
Alan Heron, from the Samaritans in Belfast, said: “It’s thought that as many as one in five people have thought about taking their own life at some point. When people feel like that, they need to be able to talk about it, which means they need people to listen. As Samaritans volunteers, we know how much listening to someone at a really low point can help them feel less alone, more able to deal with difficult thoughts and feelings, and give them the time and space to reflect and move on.”
Funds raised by The Big Listen will help Samaritans keep their services free for anyone who needs them, as well as helping to recruit, train and support volunteers across the Irish region. You can follow #TheBigListen @samaritans on Twitter, @samaritanscharity on Instagram, or Samaritans’ Facebook page here.
Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123, by firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting www.samaritans.org to find details of your local branch where you can talk to a trained volunteer face–to–face.