Samaritans has revealed the main concerns of people calling its helpline
Scots are worried about the prospect of spending Christmas alone, new research has revealed.
Christmas will be a tough time for some even without a global pandemic to deal with, say Samaritans Scotland, following new data which shows being separated from family and loved ones over the Christmas period is one of the biggest concerns facing callers.
New research with over 1,400 of Samaritans’ volunteers from across the UK and Republic of Ireland found around a quarter who took part in the survey (27%) have spoken to people who were feeling concerned about their wellbeing during Christmas and the winter period, over the past three months.
The charity’s volunteers said that the most common worries were about being separated from family and loved ones, and how they will cope with being lonely during Christmas or having to spend Christmas alone.
Other common concerns to emerge in the survey include, people worrying about the wellbeing of loved ones who are already feeling lonely as a result of restrictions, and the impact of colder weather and shorter days. Volunteers also said that people were feeling concerned about their financial situation, with many questioning if they will be able to pay bills and buy presents.
No one should struggle alone, and Samaritans is encouraging people to look out for anyone who may be feeling lonely or isolated as we head into the festive season.
Damien, 32, from Kirkintilloch, knows first-hand how vital having someone be there to listen during a difficult time can be. Having struggled with anxiety and depression for years, Damien reached out to Samaritans when he couldn’t see a way through the difficulties he was facing.
He said: “When I saw something online suggesting I call Samaritans I thought ‘what do I have to lose’? That phone call helped me to see that these feelings would pass and to find my way through; I really believe it’s a big part of why I’m here to enjoy Christmas with my loved ones, even if that looks a little different this year.
"I know that even during normal times, many people can find the festive season difficult and the worries and uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic are likely to make this Christmas harder.
"But it’s so important to know that you don’t have to face difficult times alone - whether it’s reaching out to family or friends or calling Samaritans - there’s always someone there to listen.”
Last Christmas, Samaritans, who are there for anyone struggling to cope 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, responded to over a quarter of a million calls for help including over 10,000 calls for help came on Christmas Day alone. And across Scotland, Samaritans volunteers answered more than 18,000 calls for help via phone, email and letter during the Christmas period.
Rachel Cackett, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “There’s no doubt that this has been an unprecedented year and that the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to put pressure on mental health and wellbeing. So it’s even more vital that we can continue to be there to listen for anyone who needs us this Christmas.
“We know that many people can find the festive season difficult - even without the additional challenges created by covid-19 - as it’s a time when loneliness can really hit home. While the pandemic means Christmas will look different for many of us this year, one thing that won’t change is that Samaritans will continue to be there to listen, 24/7, for anyone who needs us.”
Thousands of dedicated Samaritans volunteers will be helping people to cope over the festive period, with around 1,500 across the UK & Republic of Ireland expected to make themselves available on Christmas Day alone.
The charity is asking people to send a Christmas gift to help Samaritans continue to be there for those who need emotional support. Making a donation for as little as £5 will help Samaritans answer a call for help from somebody struggling this Christmas.
It is essential to look after our mental health, and others by continuing to check in on anyone who may be struggling and encourage them to reach out for support whether it’s with a friend, family member or a confidential helpline like Samaritans. Samaritans volunteers are always there to listen, and they won’t judge or tell you what to do. Call for free on 116 123, email email@example.com or visit www.samaritans.org