Samaritans still going strong at 60

Christine Jolly, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Samaritans branch director, and (below) Prebendary Dr Chad Varah.
Christine Jolly, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Samaritans branch director, and (below) Prebendary Dr Chad Varah.
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A dedicated voluntary service has celebrated its 60th anniversary of supporting those in desperate need of help.

Samaritans groups met at phone boxes across the country to remember the first phone call to the helpline in November 1953 – handled by the charity’s founder, Prebendary Dr Chad Varah.

Prebendary Dr Chad Varah CH CBE, founder of the Samaritans helpline

Prebendary Dr Chad Varah CH CBE, founder of the Samaritans helpline

The Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre branch, on Edward Street, Blackpool, met at the phone kiosk on Alfred Street on Saturday to support the service.

Christine Jolly, branch director, said: “We are really proud that Samaritans has been helping people through difficult times for 60 years, this is a significant milestone for the charity.

“Last year, a call to the service was made every six seconds, showing the need for us to continue to be there is greater than ever.

“People can contact us at any time of day or night.

“There are many ways to get in touch, including email and text, as well as by phone and visiting the branch to speak to a volunteer face to face.”

Samaritans was the first 24-hour telephone helpline in the world, and has answered more than 115 million calls for help since it took its first call in 1953.

The charity now has 20,890 volunteers across the UK and Republic of Ireland who answer more than five million calls every year.

The Samaritans service on the Fylde coast opened on New Year’s Day in 1979 when the first director, Jeff Sharman, secured premises on Edward Street.

People who use the service may have relationship and family problems, financial worries, job-related stress or depression.

People can raise money for the Samaritans by texting ‘SUPPORT’ to 70123 and making a £3 donation.

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