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I am Sam, a Sam I am.

I am Sam, a Sam I am.

Sam joined the Samaritans (known also as the “Sams”) in Wellington a year ago, completing his training over five Saturdays to become a part of a group of caring people that volunteer their time to offer a confidential, non-judgmental listening service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He saw becoming a Sam as a “good opportunity to get back into a role where I was helping people”. Initially it was daunting. “One of the biggest nervous things was getting on the phones for the first time”. But the past year has given him the opportunity to “…offer a lot of support and a lot of help.” Now, he finds the two hour shift a week he volunteers for is easy to fit into his lifestyle, but the required, but very important, monthly overnight shift “…always a bit more challenging.” It is during these late and overnight shifts that Samaritans receive the majority of the approximately 20,000 calls they field in a year.

“People phone Samaritans because they don’t know where else to go, or they have no one else to talk to. We’re not here to judge them, we’re just here to listen.” One thing that Samaritans do not do is give advice. However, as Sam says, “through talking through their situation, they (callers) are a bit more open to their different options.”

Sam enjoys working with his fellow Sams, who are all ages, from all walks of life. “It’s a diverse crowd, a good mix of people. But you find they’re all warm, caring and interested in other people.” Like him, he finds that they all genuinely want to help people. “It’s fantastic to think that you can just be there and support people, and make that difference in their lives.”

To keep supporting Sam and the other Sams volunteers to continue listening and caring 24/7, the Samaritans of Wellington is holding its annual street appeal on Friday August 24 and Saturday August 25. Collectors will be out and about in the central city, suburbs and ASB wellington branches, raising vital funds to help keep the service operating. If you miss the street collectors, donations can be made online at www.samaritans.org.nz. If you just need someone to listen, call Samaritans on 04 473 9739.

Watch the interview with Sam at http://youtu.be/f-NSB6WZ28o. Collection points for the annual appeal can be found on this map: (http://goo.gl/maps/345OI). For further details on the Samaritans of Wellington Annual Appeal 2012, visit www.samaritans.org.nz.

ENDS

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