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Lifesaving work of Inverness volunteers celebrated at Samaritans' 70th anniversary event


By Philip Murray

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Samaritans from Inverness joined those from elsewhere in the country for the special parliamentary reception.
Samaritans from Inverness joined those from elsewhere in the country for the special parliamentary reception.

The lifesaving work of Samaritans volunteers across Scotland has been celebrated at an event to mark the charity's 70th anniversary – and members of the Inverness branch were among those to attend.

Volunteers at Inverness Samaritans attended a parliamentary reception last week to mark the charity’s landmark anniversary. It was the second major milestone celebrated by the Inverness branch in 2023 – as well as the national charity's 70th, the Inverness branch marked its 50th anniversary earlier this year.

The latest reception event, hosted by MSP Paul Sweeney, the shadow mental health minister, marked seven decades since Samaritans founder Chad Varah answered the first ever call to his helpline for people contemplating suicide.

Members of the Scottish Parliament and other invited guests heard from a range of speakers including Samaritans Scotland executive director, Neil Mathers; Samaritans regional director for Scotland, John Knight; and Samaritans Scotland trustee, Amanda Millar.

The minister for social care, mental wellbeing and sport, Maree Todd – who is also MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross – also paid tribute to Samaritans volunteers past and present.

Adrienne Rennie, a Samaritans caller from Lanarkshire, spoke about the ‘life-changing’ impact of her conversation with a helpline volunteer in 2019.

Samaritans' Neil Mathers with Maree Todd, who is also MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross,
Samaritans' Neil Mathers with Maree Todd, who is also MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross,

Guests also had the opportunity to visit a number of information stalls on Samaritans’ work across the country, including its role as a Strategic Outcome Lead on Scotland’s suicide prevention strategy, Creating Hope Together.

Alison Wood, director of Inverness Samaritans, said: “It was wonderful to be invited to the Scottish Parliament to mark the 70th anniversary of Samaritans, and to see the dedication of volunteers, past and present, celebrated so proudly.

“The role of a Samaritans volunteer is not without its challenges, but is hugely rewarding and it was lovely to meet and enjoy a sense of camaraderie with other volunteers from all over Scotland on the evening.”

Related: Inverness Samaritans volunteers remind public help is at hand around the clock

Related: PICTURES: Samaritans in Inverness mark 50th anniversary milestone at civic reception and dinner in Town House

Neil Mathers, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “In Scotland, we have almost 1,000 volunteers based in branches across the country, and it was wonderful to welcome some of them to the Scottish Parliament to celebrate the impact the dedication of Samaritans volunteers has had over the last 70 years.

“UK-wide, Samaritans’ 23,000 volunteers respond to a call for help every 10 seconds.

“I’d like to thank Paul Sweeney MSP for his continued support and hosting the event, and Maree Todd MSP for joining us and giving such an impassioned speech.

“I’d also like to commend Samaritans caller Adrienne for speaking so bravely about her experience of calling Samaritans and the effect that call with one of our volunteers has had on her life.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans, free, 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org.


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