PEOPLE experiencing loneliness this festive season are being reminded that Samaritans in Bournemouth are available to talk.

Volunteers will be answering calls throughout the Christmas period from those who are feeling isolated or struggling to cope with life.

The Bournemouth Director of Samaritans, known only as Rose, said someone contacted the Samaritans every six seconds.

“Problems don’t go away just because it’s Christmas, so if you’re finding it hard to look forward to the festive season, we’re here for you,” she said.

“If it’s too difficult to open up to friends or family, or you feel you have no-one who will listen, talk to us. We’ll keep whatever you say safe, we won’t judge and we’ll help you find a way through.”

Molly, one of the Samaritans volunteers in the Bournemouth branch, will be one of the team working on Christmas Day answering calls for help from people finding Christmas and New Year an ordeal.

She said: “It may be your first Christmas without your children because of a separation. Or you may be bereaved, or struggling with redundancy, debt, your health, relationships or family issues. It’s ok to not be having a good time, and you don’t have to put on a brave face for us.

“You can talk to us by phone, email or face-to-face in our branch. However difficult your thoughts and feelings are, knowing that we care and that we will listen can make all the difference,” she added.

Last year, Samaritans responded to more than 5.3 million calls for help from people struggling to cope, with nearly 200,000 contacts to the charity over the festive season alone.

Dr Andrew Mayers, a psychologist at Bournemouth University and a national mental health campaigner, is a patron for Samaritans of Bournemouth and District.

He said he sees a lot of people who experience mental health difficulties in his work.

“It can be hard to talk to family and friends about mental health and distress, especially over Christmas when everyone else is having fun. Loneliness can be a major factor in worsening mental illness, so having Samaritans to call can make all the difference,” he said.

He added: “The Samaritans are available 24/7 every day of the year to talk to people who may be distressed, and do so confidentially and without judgement. And now the call to Samaritans is free – 116 123.

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