Samaritans: Awareness day at Harrogate railway station asks us to listen

Northern Rail staff and Samaritans volunteers gathered at Harrogate Railway Station to help encourage people to listen
Northern Rail staff and Samaritans volunteers gathered at Harrogate Railway Station to help encourage people to listen

A nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the importance of listening brought Samaritans volunteers to Harrogate Railway Station, taking the message to commuters.

Talk to Us is a month-long effort which on Monday, July 24 saw 90 train stations across the country filled with Samartians volunteers handing out pocket-sized leaflets. These listed five simple steps that people can use to stop and listen to those in need early on before they reach a crisis.

A volunteer from the Harrogate branch, Bill Clisham said: "The objective is to give people the confidence they need to approach people in distress.

"So many of us spend our day looking at our phones as opposed to talking to people, I think to some extent that we are losing listening skills because of this. We hope that through days like this we can bring it back.

"People want us to understand and not offer opinions, as we do not know their situation, and we need to be able to offer them complete empathy.

"They will likely then open up because they have someone listening, many people find they have the answer that they need through having someone there."

How people can offer support can take many forms, the Samaritans' list includes showing patience, using open questions that gives individuals the opportunity to delve deeper, and making sure you have understood them correctly by repeating it back to them.

Alongside this the charity says that people should not be put off by a negative response or silence. The courage to continue and give people the time they need to be comfortable with approaching others for help being among the most important.

The awareness day follows on from work carried out between the Samaritans and Northern Rail, with 15,000 of their staff receiving training to develop active listening , which are also referred to as the Samaritans's SHUSH! skill set.

Director, Donna, of Harrogate and District Samaritans, said: “Suicide is everybody’s business and we can all do our bit to encourage people to be better listeners and reach out for help if they need to. We’re a culture of people who love to give advice, love to give opinions and love the sound of our own voices. But this year we’re asking people all over the country to SHUSH! and take time out to listen to others. Sixty years of Samaritans’ expertise has taught us that just listening is the greatest gift you can give to somebody, and that it can save lives.

“Samaritans’ aim is to bring down the high numbers of suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It wants to encourage people to ask for help early if they are struggling, rather than waiting until they reach a crisis.”

Call 116 123 to talk, it is a free phoneline and will not appear on your phone bill. You can also email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org.