Samaritans set up in Gibraltar
A new helpline service, Gibraltar Samaritans, will be launching on the Rock later this year.
Chairman of the Gibraltar Samaritans, Marielou Guerrero, is looking for volunteers to help set up and run the charity locally. She has been joined by Chairman of Clubhouse Dr Rene Beguelin and told the Chronicle about the upcoming plans which will provide a 24hr service and will be hosting a training weekend starting April 21.
The international Samaritans service aims to aid people who are distressed and even suicidal by providing a place to talk without prejudice.
Once established locally, people will be able to contact the helpline on the Freephone number 116123. After hour’s calls will be transferred to the Samaritans in Australia or New Zealand ensuring the phones are answered at all times.
“There are a lot of instances where people are feeling in need of emotional support and they need somebody to talk to. Maybe they are really worried about something and they don’t want to talk to their families as they are ashamed,” said Ms Guerrero.
“The idea of the Samaritans is to have somebody on the other side of the phone. It’s anonymous, you don’t have to say who you are and you don’t know who you are talking to. That person will listen, they are not going to judge you or tell you what to do, and they will help you work out your own problems.”
“You don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to deal with a crisis on your own.”
Calls to the Samaritans remain confidential at all times and cannot be traced. Any phone calls made to the Samaritans will not appear on any phone records and will not be billed.
“Primarily the Samaritans is known as a suicide prevention service so like everywhere in the world we have our share of suicides,” Dr Beguelin said.
He added: “There is no cost, it is not traceable and it does not appear on your account.”
Lieutenant General Governor Edward Davis has agreed to be Patron of the charity and Director of Central London Samaritan office Maggie Galliano will be travelling back home to Gibraltar for an Information Day for volunteers in mid-May.
“It is basically an emotional helpline,” said Ms Guerrero.
“If somebody is in need of emotional support, you have somebody to ring who is not going to judge you. There are lots of people on their own who are looking after elderly relatives and are at the end of their tether maybe you can help get them the support that they need.”
“If somebody wants to commit suicide they are going to do it but the family left behind needs a hell of a lot of support and they are ashamed to talk to people. They want to cope with it as best they can and a lot of them will turn to the Samaritans for help.”
It is hoped there will be two people manning phones locally and volunteers will work on a three hour rota.
The charity is not just looking for volunteers to man the lines, but for people to promote it, raise funds and help in the day-to-day running.
“The first set of volunteers are for people with some experience to be trainers, but then we need a whole bank of general volunteers because without them we can’t run the service,” Ms Guerrero said.
Anyone wishing to volunteer should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Marielou Guerrero on 57705000.