Samaritans will be offering armed forces staff and their families tailor-made confidential support services round the clock, wherever they are in the world, Chancellor George Osborne announced in this week’s Budget.
The charity will receive £3.5m over three years to develop a national programme that helps military personnel , veterans and their loved ones identify when someone may need emotional support, and access Samaritans’ services more easily, whether they are in the UK or stationed overseas.
The money is coming from what’s known as the LIBOR fund, following the rate-fixing issue, where fines paid by the banks are passed on to the voluntary sector.
There will be three elements to the national programme:
- Building on Samaritans’ existing digital technology to offer service men and women at home and abroad access to confidential support by text, email and instant messaging
- Online training for military personnel and their families in listening skills, giving them the confidence and expertise to encourage each other to open up when life is tough
- Face to face training to create listening volunteers within the forces, available night and day for colleagues who need to talk about difficult thoughts or feelings
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK, and of men and women aged 20-34. For men who are 24 or younger and have left the armed forces, the risk of them taking their own lives is between 2 and 3 three times higher than men the same age who haven’t served in the military.*
“We rely on men and women in the armed forces to put their lives on the line to keep us safe," said Director of Lancaster and District Samaritans, Jenny Digton, welcoming the Chancellor’s announcement.
"With this funding, Samaritans can share its expertise with the military so that those serving or leaving the forces and their families are better equipped to deal with their unique circumstances, as well as the day to day struggles that we all face.
“Lancaster and District Samaritans are already here for anyone who is struggling, including those in the military. This funding will enable Samaritans nationally to share their expertise and give service men and women vital skills in listening and supporting others that they can use in their careers and later in their civilian lives.”
Samaritans has a track record in tailoring its services to the needs of those who may be more at risk of taking their own lives. For example, it has developed a listening scheme in prisons, which is now in its 25th year, where inmates are trained in listening skills and offer emotional support to prisoners finding it difficult to cope. We offer this service at Lancaster Farms.
Since 2010 Samaritans has been working with Network Rail and the wider rail industry’s 200,000 staff to develop online and face to face training in the skills needed to identify anyone who may be vulnerable, keep them safe, and direct them to sources of support such as Samaritans.