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This new initiative by the Samaritans will support more people across Liverpool

3 years ago

This new initiative by the Samaritans will support more people across Liverpool

This new Samaritans-led outreach programme will offer more peopl who need it support in Liverpool

The local charity is working with GP surgeries, the city council, police, coroners’ court, food banks and other organisations to improve the listening skills of staff who deal with vulnerable members of the public.

A series of workshops will help employees and volunteers to ‘listen like a Samaritan’, handle difficult conversations and identify the ‘trigger lines’ of people who are at risk of coming to harm.

The sessions are being made possible thanks to a partnership between Liverpool City Council and Samaritans Liverpool and Merseyside, with the charity receiving funding to appoint learning and skills co-ordinator Vhairie Johnston to lead the programme.

“Really listening to people makes them feel valued and understood, and is something we at Samaritans pride ourselves on,” says Vhairie, who has also been a listening volunteer at the Clarence Street branch for the past three years.

“From asking open questions to summarising, reflecting and clarifying the words that are spoken to us, we know the power it can have to help people who are going through a difficult time.

“As part of my role I will be reaching out to different organisations in the city and putting on workshops that will ultimately benefit those who need us most. Many people who struggle to cope find it difficult to pick up the phone and talk about how they’re feeling, so it is important that we are able to reach them in different ways.

Liverpool Director of Public Health Matthew Ashton added his support for the project. He said:

“This training has been really helpful to many of our customer-facing teams in Liverpool City Council in raising their confidence and skills in communicating with customers who may be experiencing significant distress. I would recommend other employers consider accessing this free training to equip their teams with the valuable guidance provided within these sessions.”

Liverpool-based employers who want to take advantage of the free workshops are asked to e-mail Vhairie at

Vhairie’s appointment coincides with Samaritans’ Small Talk Saves Lives campaign, which encourages people to strike up conversations with strangers who may need help.

The charity says a little small talk and a simple question, such as “hello, what’s the time?” can be all it takes to interrupt someone’s suicidal thoughts.

The Liverpool branch, although affiliated to the national Samaritans organisation, is a standalone charity that is responsible for its own fundraising.

“For more than 60 years we have been providing round-the-clock emotional support in Liverpool,” says branch director Sheila Campbell.

“Our phone lines are as busy as ever but we also know that many people are reluctant to ask for help, which is why we are doing more to reach out to people in the community. It is important that people know that, whatever they are going through, we are always here for them.”

Anyone in need of emotional support can contact the Samaritans on the free number 116 123 or email


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