Wakefield Samaritans celebrate 40 years in city

Jane Hewitt and Jayne James. Samaritans 40th anniversary.'w5655a127
Jane Hewitt and Jayne James. Samaritans 40th anniversary.'w5655a127

FOR 40 years a dedicated group of volunteers have worked 24 hours a day to help people through some of the darkest times of lives.

This year Samaritans are celebrating four decades in the city in which they have helped to save countless lives.

Every time they pick up the phone or receive an e-mail at their office on Charlotte Street, they have no idea what to expect.

Jane Hewitt, director of Wakefield and District Samaritans, said: “It might be that you’re talking to someone who has taken tablets and is just wanting to talk to somebody while they die. Our training is so important – you want them to feel there’s a reason to carry on living.”

The charity has planned a number of events to raise the profile of Samaritans in the city. They have teamed up with bus company Arriva to place large posters on vehicles.

A campaign to cut the number of suicides at Outwood Railway Station with Network Rail is also planned.

Mrs Hewitt said: “When there is a death on the railway it’s not just the victim and their family who are affected.

“The railway staff are under intense pressure to get the line back up and running again and that obviously has an impact on them.”

School visits are also an important tool.

Jayne James, publicity and partnerships, said: “We do a lot of work to teach children about emotional health. If we can educate them at a young age they may find it easier to talk about their problems when they’re older.”

Like many charities, Samaritans don’t get any government funding and need to raise £30,000 a year to keep going.

Mrs Hewitt said: “We’ve been here for 40 years and we’re still very much needed. Our confidentiality is the most respected, it’s our cornerstone and that’s what keeps us going.”