Samaritans has released new figures showing the extent of loneliness and isolation people feel over the festive period, with a quarter believing everything feels worse at Christmas and 1 in 6 (17.3%) saying it’s the loneliest time of year.*
The survey also reveals that 1 in 15 (6.8%) have often spent Christmas alone, and 1 in 25 (3.8%) of those questioned have said they are with friends and family, but really spent it alone.
Samaritans responded to nearly 200,000* calls for help over the festive period last year, and are seeing an increasing demand for their services, responding to more than 5.3 million calls for help last year.
Samaritans’ Rose (Chair of the Bournemouth and District branch) says, “For many the holiday period can be a thoroughly enjoyable time but, sadly, as our research shows, for a startling amount of people this is not always the case. This time of year can bring up painful memories, or worsen difficult feelings often related to family or relationship issues, financial or health worries, to name just a few. The pressure to be having a good time or comparing your life with someone else’s can be too much, leaving many feeling they have no one to turn to.”
“The important thing to remember is that no one needs to feel alone this Christmas – Samaritans volunteers are there to listen round the clock, every day of the year. We don’t judge and we don’t share what we’re told, we’re simply there to listen, provide emotional support and help people find a way through whatever’s getting to them.”
Molly is one of Samaritans’ 21,000 volunteers and will be on duty over the festive period Bournemouth. Molly said, “This is my first year as a Samaritans volunteer. I’m happy to give up my time as I know that there are a lot of people who, more than ever, need someone to turn to. Support services can often shut down at this time of year, or family and friends may be far away, leaving some people feeling more isolated than usual. Knowing I can provide vital support to people who might be having a difficult time is the best gift I can think of giving.”
Dr Andrew Mayers (psychologist at Bournemouth University and national mental health campaigner) is Patron for Samaritans of Bournemouth and District. He says: “In am in total admiration about the work that the Samaritans’ listening volunteers do throughout the year, but perhaps none more so than over the Christmas period. At this time many people tend be lonelier. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference. I work with people who experience acute and chronic mental health problems. Loneliness can be a major factor in escalating those problems.”
Samaritans relies almost entirely on donations to run its 201 branches and train more than 21,000 dedicated volunteers, without whom it could not operate its life-saving services for those who need them most. If you would like to support Samaritans by making a donation, you can find out how you can help at: https://www.samaritans.org/christmas