Rotherham Samaritans received a visit from Dr Alan Billings on Thursday, 7 December.

The Commissioner called in to meet with the volunteers and see for himself the dedicated telephone line he has funded.  The helpline is thought to be one of the first to be installed to help those who have been bereaved through suicide.

Dr Billings said: “Samaritans is a name we all recognise.  They are a support network we take for granted and know they will be there.  They are run by dedicated volunteers of all ages, who give up their time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, even Christmas Day, to help others.

“As we approach the festive season, many people will be struggling emotionally with loneliness, financial difficulties and just keeping going.  There are always people on hand in the Samaritans to listen to people’s concerns and talk things through with them.

“The dedicated telephone line I have funded seems to be unique in the country, it is certainly unique to South Yorkshire, helping families bereaved by suicide.  If people would like a call from a trained Samaritan, they can ask for their name and telephone number to be passed on to Samaritans by their family liaison officer.  They will then receive a call at the first available opportunity.

Rotherham Samaritans have over 50 volunteers working from their Town Centre base.  All volunteers have to go through an in-depth training programme over a number of weeks to ensure they are adequately prepared for the calls they will receive.

Director Christine Edwards said: “The funding and visit from Dr Billings comes at an important time.  With Christmas coming, we expect there will be an increase in calls to the service.

“Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons, some people cannot face tomorrow.  It is the people they leave behind who are left with feelings of guilt and depression. This dedicated line will help them.

“I would encourage anyone feeling this way to speak with the police family liaison officer to access the service.

“If anyone is interested in joining the Samaritans as a volunteer, we are always looking for more recruits.  Rotherham branch is not up to full capacity to enable it to run 24 hours a day, but due to the way Samaritans is operated, there will always be a friendly voice at the end of the telephone as calls will divert to other branches.”

For anyone wishing to speak to the Samaritans about anything that is concerning them, they can call the Freephone 116 123 at anytime of day or night.  For more information on what they do, visit the website