The rail industry is being encouraged to support Samaritans’ latest Christmas campaign by nominating and celebrating their own ‘Christmas stars’.
The ‘Be a Samaritans Christmas Star’ campaign applies to all rail workers - from those who have saved lives on the network through to employees who have raised vital funds for the charity this year.
For example, one Samaritans Christmas Star is Freightliner Heavy Haul shunt driver Bessie Matthews, who was the top fundraiser for ‘Samarathon’ in July after walking 106 miles and raising £5,864.
She is now encouraging other rail staff to be a ‘Christmas star’ by making a donation or helping Samaritans volunteers to help others by fundraising for the charity, as she did.
She said: “For every person who sponsored me, I wrote their name on a piece of ballast and put it in a backpack which I carried everywhere with me. I had 121 pieces and it weighed over 7lbs.
“In the rail industry, we can also help Samaritans by looking out for passengers and each other. Christmas time can be a very busy and hard time for some people. I always try to be extra vigilant and talk to people who might need help.”
The festive campaign launch comes as the latest figures from Samaritans reveal that caller concerns about family have risen for a fifth year in a row. So far, throughout 2021, family worries have accounted for more than a third (34%) of emotional support contacts with the charity across the UK and Ireland.
Mental health/illness remains the top overall concern at 46%, with isolation and loneliness ranking third at 28% and relationship problems at 24%.
This Christmas, Samaritans volunteers are expected to respond to 250,000 calls for help.
Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley added: “While many look forward to the Christmas period, at Samaritans we know this time of year can actually be a huge challenge for some people. Our amazing volunteers will, as they do every hour of every day, be giving their time this Christmas to anyone who needs support. I think that is a pretty special gift to give.”