ONE of his toughest challenges has been to listen to the final words of an anonymous caller to the Samaritans.
Volunteer Garth Barnes said that in 18 years with the Samaritans he has had some moving experiences.
Garth, now deputy director for training of new volunteers, said: “One person rang in, they had taken an overdose and wanted to end their life. After, the police contacted us to say that this person had died. That was very difficult to deal with.”
He has been with the Gloucester branch in Park End Road for almost two decades, providing emotional support to anyone in distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide.
He added: “I am not sure why I decided to do it, but I just picked up the phone to put myself forward as a volunteer. Some of the stories can be really tragic but not always. Helping them through their problems is what we do and just being there to listen to them.
“There are many agencies out there but not always ones that will just listen.”
He will be among volunteers celebrating the Samaritans’ 60th anniversary on Monday with a concert at Gloucester Cathedral.
The former Cheltenham Mayor said: “I am going to be the MC for the concert, which I am nervous about, but equally looking forward to.”
Diana has spent 28 years in Samaritan service, and has been a Director of Gloucester Branch.
She said: “I am known as Diana Six – we all have numbers. I decided to become a volunteer because nearly three decades ago my daughter’s friend’s mother killed herself and I did not know where to go or where she could have gone. I honestly didn’t know of the Samaritans. Everyday is different, you just don’t know who will knock on the door, email us or phone in. For me there has not been one case harder than the other because each one is individual.
“In this job you have to leave your Samaritan hat at work and put on the other hat outside of working hours. When we deal with these cases we do have colleagues to support us and a leader at home, separate to the situation in case we need help.”
Gloucester & District Samaritans’opened in March 1971, after the befriending group joined forces with Stroud District to form our current branch, which also now covers the Forest of Dean. The organisation quickly became part of the local community and it is now one of the town’s biggest and oldest charities, with 130 volunteers. Last year, Gloucester Branch Samaritans 27,270 calls for help by telephone, email and face to face visits to 9 Park End Road.
The branch are hosting a celebratory concern of music at Gloucester Cathedral on Monday December 2 from 7pm. There will be an evening programme of music from soprano, Elisabeth Fleming, Dursley Male Voice Choir, and Gloucester Salvation Army Band, along with readings from our volunteers, and National Chair, Stephen Hoddell.