The Preston Samaritans have appealed for public support following a difficult 17 months under lockdown.Advertisement
The charity has been unable to complete its usual fundraising activities, impacting its ability to provide vital support to the public despite receiving 2.3 million contacts during the pandemic.
The Preston branch alone receives 50,000 calls a year, and it costs around £335 a day to remain open. Sally Eastham, Director of the Preston Branch, said at the start of the restrictions in March of last year, they had to close the shop, which generates a large amount of income.
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When asked how the branch survived, Sally said: “We survived because we are survivors, but it hasn’t been easy. We’re always looking for a bit of extra money to keep the branch open.
“Hopefully, now restrictions are easing, people will return. We also do fundraising work outside of the branch, raising awareness to help generate funds and keep them coming in.”
The Preston Samaritans have maintained their service and continue to provide 24-hour, 365 days-a-year care, but lockdown has led to them being unable to meet face-to-face callers.
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Sally said: “The branch is always busy, so it takes a huge amount of man-hours and quality of time to continue to provide that service.”
With lockdown restrictions ending on Monday 19 July, Sally is hopeful that the team can resume their community work, including volunteer recruitment, talking to people in a public setting, and running booths at the local bus and train station.
At the booths, the Samaritans provide promotional material and talk to passengers and rail and bus personnel.
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Sally said: “People who are struggling will come over and speak with us or kindly donate into our collection boxes. A lot of lives are lost on the railways each year, so it is good if we have our presence there and support people.
“If someone loses their life on the railway system, it affects passengers, drivers and all sorts of people running the railroads.”
When asked what the community can do to help the Preston branch, Sally said: “Continue to support us, and in turn, we will be able to continue supporting everyone out there.
“We’re always looking for volunteers for our shop. It can be a couple of hours here and there – whatever people can comfortably give to us is always greatly appreciated.”
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To help raise funds for the Preston branch, Jamie, a volunteer, is attempting a personal mental health challenge, which will see him walking 155 miles, approximately five miles a day, throughout July.
To donate to his fundraiser, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamie486
You can contact the Preston Samaritans on 116 123 (free from any phone) or 0330 094 5717 (local call charges apply)
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Can you help fundraise for the Preston Samaritans? Let us know in the comments below