President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to Samaritan volunteers for their profound and positive impact on many lives, often making the difference between life and death.
There are more than 2,000 volunteers in 21 branches of the Samaritans across Ireland, giving emotional support to others 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Christmas Day.
In a special Christmas message of thanks recorded for the volunteers, staff and supporters of Samaritans Ireland, President Higgins said the service is invaluable, impacting on the lives of so many in such a positive manner.
Beacon of hope
“The service is a lifeline, providing a beacon of hope for the many who may be experiencing, or have ever experienced, deep emotional distress or suicidal ideation,” he said.
“By providing this crucial service, you are offering an experience of a kinder, more compassionate society. We all owe so much to the work of the Samaritans, a voluntary organisation that is so cherished within our society.”
Samaritans provide a 24-hour helpline service for people who are in distress, struggling to cope and who are in need of emotional support, including those who are feeling suicidal.
President Higgins paid special tribute to the Dublin branch of Samaritans, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2020.
“The impact of Covid-19 resulted in plans to mark this significant anniversary being curtailed. However, I would like to give my deepest thanks, as President of Ireland, and on behalf of all the people of Ireland, to all the staff and volunteers in Dublin Samaritans and congratulate you on this milestone,” he added.
President Higgins said this Christmas period comes after a year that tested us all, but particularly the vulnerable, those who lost loved-ones, whose lives and livelihoods were impacted adversely by the pandemic, and who are experiencing loneliness and isolation.
However, he commended those “who have the courage to acknowledge that they need help and support” and the hundreds of thousands of callers to Samaritans’ “kind and selfless” volunteers.
“By utilising the important service that the Samaritans provide, you are demonstrating your belief in the transformative power of hope, demonstrating a will to reach out from the darkness of despair to grasp a brighter future,” he added.
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.samaritans.ie