Christmas may be a time of joy and celebration, but for some people, it can be a period filled with loneliness, uncertainty and fear.
So, as the festive season approaches, the Samaritans of Northumbria are urging those in difficulty to contact them, with the comforting message, ‘we are here for you’.
As volunteer Alan Fowler admits, calls to the charity increase at this time of year.
But the 56-year-old from Amble says that people needn’t suffer in silence, with a listening ear just a phone call away.
He told the Gazette: “I would like to reassure the Northumberland community that the Samaritans will be manning the calls over the festive period, during which people will be contacting us due to various issues which cause them emotional distress and some even feel suicidal.
“So the message I would give to people is that you don’t have to feel lonely or isolated or in difficulty. The Samaritans will offer a supportive, sympathetic ear.”
Alan, who has been with the Samaritans for 18 years, says that one of the biggest problems facing people at Christmas is loneliness.
He added: “Christmas is a time where generally the world is celebrating, but for some people it is a sad period of time and they can be particularly vulnerable.
“Some feel isolated and some feel emotionally stressed because of financial pressures, worries about employment or because they have suffered a bereavement.
“There is an increase in the number of calls at this time of year, but the Samaritans are there to support you, offering a confidential and 24-hour service, even on Christmas Day and over New Year.
“We don’t tell people what to do – although we might sensitively signpost them to a national agency – but we give people the space to talk to us for as long as they want to and we listen to them.
“We hope that it helps with their emotions and helps them to see things in a different light.”