As Samaritans celebrates 70 years of listening, it’s come a long way from just being a phoneline, as latest figures show over 185,000 people have been helped thanks to the suicide prevention charity’s new digital services.
Since its soft launch in 2020, more than 80,000 people have turned to the charity for emotional support via its online chat pilot. This has proven to be a vital new way to seek help from Samaritans, as 60% of users have never contacted Samaritans before and 40% say they would not reach out in any other way.
In 2020, Samaritans also launched a free self-help web app to help people look after their emotional wellbeing. To date, over 105,000 people have created Samaritans Self-Help accounts.
Nominet – the public benefit company that operates the .UK registry and is one of the country’s largest tech-for-good funders, has provided support of almost £1m towards Samaritans’ digital transformation project over the past four years, so the charity can expand its online support offering to reach people struggling to cope in a way that works best for them.
Thanks to this funding, Samaritans has also been able to improve its internal systems and develop more understanding and guidance on online harms.
Julie Bentley, CEO, at Samaritans, said: “Samaritans began 70 years ago with a single telephone but now, thanks to the support of companies like Nominet, we are able to help people in a variety of ways that would have been unimaginable to our early volunteers.
“The digital environment is always evolving and it’s vital that Samaritans can match this pace of change, so anyone struggling to cope can reach us in a way that is most suitable for them. As we continue on our digital journey, now more than ever, funders can play a crucial role in ensuring that we will be here for people, both today and in the future.”
Chris Ashworth, Head of Social Impact at Nominet, said: “Samaritans is the only charity that is there day or night at this scale, and it’s vital that they are supported to continue to provide their life-saving service. We are so proud to have funded Samaritans’ digital transformation journey so far, which includes important programmes of work such as the development of Samaritans Self-Help app and trialling the online chat pilot.”
Every day, Samaritans volunteers respond to around 10,000 calls for help via phone, email, letter and the online chat pilot. The charity has 22,000 volunteers across over 200 branches throughout the UK and Ireland and are available 24 hour a day, 365 days a year for anyone who needs emotional support.