On the Frontline: The Samaritans listening to you through the pandemic

“The world seems to be put on hold,” says Lesley Moughtin.

Lesley has been a Samaritan for seven years, working for the charity from its island office in Douglas.

Volunteers, who take calls from across the UK, are government key workers, people considered to do essential work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lesley said the number of calls to do with coronavirus have “rocketed”, estimating that the disease is mentioned in 90% of her calls. They still refer to topics such as loneliness, losing jobs, debt and money worries – but these are magnified by COVID-19.

The 67-year-old, from Douglas, said a lot of the fear stems from uncertainty, and added: “I don’t know what the future will hold.”

She said she has also seen a rise in domestic violence-related calls, including women who were on the verge of leaving before social distancing measures were put in place.

“It’s all now on hold,” she said.

Lesley became a Samaritan after she was made redundant.

She recalls thinking, “I like to talk a lot, I have no problem talking… this is made for me!”

Unfortunately, this is a common misconception: “We don’t give advice and we don’t talk – we listen.”

Lesley, who loves her work “just a bit”, quickly learned to “sit on her hands”.

“You try and get in their shoes… that bit is hard.”

“Some people will talk to us about things they’ve never talked about before… we’re not going to judge them.”

Of course, listening to someone’s darkest thoughts can be difficult for the volunteers, but Lesley says the support network they have in their team is hugely helpful.

The coronavirus has affected the Samaritans just as it has affected all of society. Volunteers are adhering to strict social distancing and the disinfecting of all work surfaces is mandatory.

It has also seen a decrease in people who can come in to take calls on the island – with vulnerable volunteers and those who are self isolating staying at home.

But Lesley says the waiting time has actually reduced, with people working extra shifts and the vulnerable doing specific jobs safely from home.

“So many Samaritans are pulling out all the stops.”

How does she feel coming into work, when such a large proportion of the population are staying home?

Lesley refers to nurses, carers and shop staff going to work: “If they can do it, then what possible excuse do I have for not doing it?”

 


Lesley Moughtin | The Samaritans, Isle of ManLesley Moughtin | The Samaritans, Isle of Man

Lesley Moughtin | The Samaritans, Isle of Man

 

If you have any Coronavirus worries, you’re having a difficult time, or struggling with your mental health during the outbreak this link takes you to The Samaritans Covid-19 advice page. It also includes their phone number if you’re looking for someone to talk to.

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