Friday, February 19, 2010

you keep me hanging on the telephone...........

Have you heard of The Samaritans?
Founded in 1953 in The East End Of London.
All major towns & cities in the U.K. have branches.Open for email;visits & telephone calls 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
I was a volunteer in Halifax for 7 years.I also helped regionally & nationally with Training.
Here is a little history behind the organization.
Non - Religious , yet initially founded by a vicar Chad Varah who was moved by the suicide of a 13 year old local girl.She had started
menstruating and, thinking she had a terminal disease ,(with nobody to talk too), she killed herself.
I met Chad a couple of times in his later years.(photo above).His simple idea of befriending filled a lonely gap in British Life.
It's not counseling.You don't talk anybody out of 'topping themself' .You just stand alongside them and (to use that awful American expression ) "Feel Their Pain" with them. Never a Judge. Never a Jury.
Because it is a non-religious outfit.And because it is totally inclusive (after some hard-nosed training *blushes*) , you get a really nice mix of volunteers to work with.
Usually , volunteers will work in pairs.Very easily you might find ,say, a 19 year old big ugly Chav  with tattoos & sweaty armpits sharing a shift with a 70 year old Hyacinth Bucket look alike in twin-set and pearls! Despair comes in all shapes and sizes and so do the friends who witness this despair.
Being a Samaritan is one of the Proudest things I have ever done.
This photo was taken in the late 1970's. A Float in the Halifax Charity Gala.  
I would love to tell you that I,m the 3rd person in the tub,under the bubbles.But,That, would be a lie...........
This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Only while writing this post, I found Here  the  contact details of The Sams in The U.S.A.
[forgive the dreadful pun in the title of this post.Forgive ,also, My posting of Debbie Harry on my (much neglected) Music Blog.]  !
Click here for a cartoon called "Watch out! Stephen Fry has joined the Samaritans!"
+Did you know that Phil Selway ,the drummer with Radiohead, is\was (?) A Samaritan?I also learned via this link that Phil Selway went to the same Teacher Training College  (C.F.Mott,Liverpool) as me!As did Julian Cope.

*Monday update: This terrible story.Politics at it's worse.The Micky Mouse Telephone helpline called "The National Bullying Helpline".Is causing a minor storm here in pre-election Britain.They claim that government staff rang their helpline claiming our Prime Minister bullies them.........which may be true\it may not.However,they broke all the rules of caller-confidentiality.As always with Politics.Dont ask "WHY" ask "WHY NOW"*

39 comments:

Brian Miller said...

sounds like a wicked cool experience tony.

nice pic...usually keep my baths inside...unless i am in the mountains of course.

Ronda Laveen said...

Tony: I've never heard of The Samaritan's. What a great concept...never a judgej...never a jury. The story of the young girl's suicide is so sad--not to mention senseless.

Thanks for this 411.

MuseSwings said...

What a great post! I like the idea of the Good Samaritan's - a bit less daunting than a suicide hot line, I would imagine.

Dominic Rivron said...

Great organisation. Clever float. I assume there was a canopy of some sort we can't see, with suds piled up on it. Nevertheless, it must have been pretty uncomfortable.

Chad Varrah sounds interesting. A friend and I were only saying last night that if religious people/ organisations want to do good works then, if they want respect for so doing, they should do it in a secular way.

Alan Burnett said...

Wonderfully informative and the photo took me right back to the Halifax Charity Gala's I used to attend back in the 1960s.

Martin H. said...

Great story. Great organisation.

Akelamalu said...

A great organisation and Kudos to you for doing your bit with them.

I didn't know the origins of the Samaritans, so thanks for the history lesson Tony.

Protege said...

Beautiful post about a very important organization. In fact, I know someone very well who is a samaritan.
xo
Zuzana

tony said...

well, The Sams are a "hot-line" too.You can phone them anytime .If your short of Brass, they should phone you back to spare expense.
Dominic, I agree 100% about what you say about the secular aspect of this.
I have been learning too! I discover that Chad was also co-founder of The Eagle comic books , which I read in my yoof.A good "all-rounder" as they say in Cricket!

Poetikat said...

The first time I ever heard of The Samaritans was way back in the 80s on Eastenders. I think it was Kathy Beale who joined them after being raped by Wilmott-Brown (or was it before?)

By the way, you can use any Blondie reference you like; I was a big fan in their early days.

Kat

Kurt said...

I once loaned my car for a few days to a coworker after she wrecked hers. I saw her recently, but she didn't remember it.

tony said...

Kurt! I Would Never loan my car to ANYBODY! "Niceness" has it's Limits!

Barry said...

I'd never heard of the Samaritans either, but it seems they do good work and know how to take some interesting photos!

white rabbit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtSparker said...

A friend does this, not at the Samaritans, but a suicide prevention line.

white rabbit said...

For some reason, the photo of Chad Varah made me think of Dick Emery.

Jus sayin'

L. D. Burgus said...

I have never heard of this organization either there or here in the United States. It is a good thing.

steviewren said...

It sounds like a wonderful thing to do for hurting people. It helps to have someone willing to listen.

tony said...

Dick Emery does Blondie ! That Idea Has Legs !

Meri said...

Worthwhile way to let your soul show up in the world -- as a Samaritan.

Betsy said...

dispair comes in all shapes and sizes....very true!

John Hayes said...

Good work--you should be proud. What a tragic story of the organization's beginnings....

PattyF said...

Great post, and I love the photo of the float!

willow said...

Tony, you are a good Samaritan! Great organization. kudos.

Tom said...

hey, good for you!

oh, ha ha! good title.

No more telephone cords though.

subby said...

I rather fancy that D.H. tune...really I do...always so much to explore here, tony and ta for the history lesson :)

Too, I have to have a laugh at the advert photo and caption (grins)..do enjoy the rest of your week-end, sir!

Megan said...

You are my Saturday hero, Tones. Sorry it's already half-Sunday there. I do hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Momentary Madness said...

Yes, a great group of people.

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

I had never heard of the organization. Great idea!

Bachelor said...

Tony,
Great informative post here. Samaritans sounds like a good hot line organization. Good for you to help out there. Have a great Sunday! :) The Bach

KAZ said...

Thanks Tony - interesting post.
I honestly thought that Chad Varrah was a British toy maker.
I now remember it was Chad Valley
d'OH.

LadyCat said...

The Samaritans are also new to me. They sound like an organization that is greatly needed. I admire your dedication to this cause. Love the bathtub float : )

Valerie said...

I know the Samaritans very well, Tony. It was a joy to read about your involvement. As a matter of fact I know all about Chad Varah but never met him. I was secretary to his son, Mike, for a few years. Lovely family. Thanks for posting.

tony said...

It's A Small World Valerie.

Stephanie said...

Fun float for a worthy cause. Must have gotten lots of notice!

Joanne Casey said...

never knew much about the Samaritans' history...thankfully never had to call them either.

tattytiara said...

It takes a remarkable person to hear a tragedy like that and use it for inspiration to help countless others. What a great organization.

Renegade Eye said...

Your Samaritan experience I'm sure was fascinating.

I doubt if I could be as neutral as you were. I could picture myself telling someone to go to a psychiatrist.

blackwatertown said...

Good pic. Are the opening words from the Samaritans still - Can I Help You? Great organization.

As for the National bullying helpline - you might want to check this out http://torytroll.blogspot.com/2010/02/who-are-national-bullying-helpline.html
and this
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2010/02/helplines_invol.html

There seem to be some questions of murkiness around the NBH, never mind the whole question of breach of confidentiality.