Leeds Samaritans volunteers on hand throughout Christmas and New Year

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Samaritans in Leeds will be among volunteers putting in the hours over Christmas - over 123,000 to be precise.

More than 11,000 volunteers up and down the country will be working shifts for the charity to ensure its helpline is open around the clock, even on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Mental health, family issues, isolation and loneliness are expected to be the top concerns.

Relationship problems, physical health, violence, abuse and bereavement are likely to feature too, as well as drug and alcohol misuse.

Judith called Samaritans when she had a difficult Christmas.

“I was so unhappy and it spilled over into my family life,” she said.

Samaritans.

Samaritans.

“Having a Samaritan to talk to when I felt overwhelmed by my feelings was an important release for me.

“It was a way of managing life at a very stressful time.”

Tracey Whitehead, a Samaritans’ volunteer who has been on shift on Christmas Day, said: “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, for whatever reason, it feels a whole lot worse for you on a day when everyone else seems to be celebrating.

“Giving a little of my time to be there on Christmas Day for people who need our support feels like a very special privilege to me.”

Samaritans are on hand 24/7.

Samaritans are on hand 24/7.

Samaritans’ branch director Alwyne Greenbank said: “Whether you’re on your own or feeling alone in a crowd, we don’t want anyone to struggle.”

At the same time, Samaritans is encouraging everyone to give the gift of listening by telling friends and family it’s okay to open up if something is troubling them.

To make it easy, the charity has produced a set of vouchers that you can download from its website to give as presents, offering yourself as a listening ear.

You can invite someone to confide in you over a coffee, while out on a walk, or in a whatever way you feel they will be most comfortable with.

Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123.

This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill.