Callers worried about being lonely this Christmas say Samaritans Scotland

Samaritans Scotland has said spending Christmas without loved ones is one of the biggest concerns among callers to its helpline.Samaritans Scotland has said spending Christmas without loved ones is one of the biggest concerns among callers to its helpline.
Samaritans Scotland has said spending Christmas without loved ones is one of the biggest concerns among callers to its helpline.
Samaritans Scotland has said spending Christmas without loved ones is one of the biggest concerns among callers to its helpline.

The charity said in a survey of 1,439 volunteers, 27% of them handled calls from people worried about being separated from families and loved ones

over the festive period.

In the survey, from August to October, 395 volunteers said they had talked to callers concerned about Christmas or the winter period.

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Other callers were concerned about loved ones who were already feeling lonely as a result of restrictions, and the impact of colder weather and shorter days.

Volunteers also said people felt concerned about their financial situation, with many questioning if they will be able to pay bills and buy presents.

Samaritans is encouraging people to look out for those who may be feeling lonely this festive season.

Damien, 32, from Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, contacted the charity when he could not see a way through the difficulties he was facing.

He said: "When I saw something online suggesting I call Samaritans I thought, 'What do I have to lose?’

"That phone call helped me to see that these feelings would pass and to find my way through.

"I really believe it's a big part of why I'm here to enjoy Christmas with my loved ones, even if that looks a little different this year."

Between December 1 and January 1 last winter, Samaritans Scotland handled more than 18,000 contacts for help via phone, email and letter.

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Across the UK, the charity helped 250,000 people - including 10,000 on Christmas Day.

Rachel Cackett, executive director of Samaritans Scotland, said: "There's no doubt that this has been an unprecedented year and that the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to

put pressure on mental health and wellbeing.

"So it's even more vital that we can continue to be there to listen for anyone who needs us this Christmas.

"We know that many people can find the festive season difficult - even without the additional challenges created by Covid-19 - as it's a time when loneliness can really hit home.

Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day by calling 116 123.

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