Help is at hand for distressed young people, says charity

The Northern Echo: IN NEED? Call the Samaritans on 08457-90-90-90 IN NEED? Call the Samaritans on 08457-90-90-90

A CHARITY that offers support and comfort to people at their lowest ebb has taken steps to remind children and young people about the service it offers.

The Samaritans is available all year round, for those who are struggling to cope, whether young or old, male or female.

Demand for its services increases at this time of year, when the stresses of the festive season can become too much for some people.

Liz McAllister, director of the Darlington branch of the Samaritans, is particularly keen that teenagers and young adults are made aware that the charity is there for them.

She said: “We work with schools, but it can be difficult for teenagers once schools close for Christmas and they miss the face-to-face contact with friends and teachers that they might normally be able to confide in.

“Our helpline, email and text services offer a 24-hour service to people who need us.

“There is also the fact that schools have a duty of care and may need to report certain things young people tell them to other authorities, such as social services or the police.

“Services offered by the Samaritans are totally confidential.”

Problems that may play on young people’s minds and lead to them needing the services of the Samaritans, or similar organisations, include bullying, peer pressure, pregnancy, body issues and drug abuse.

Mrs McAllister said one of the most sensitive issues for Samaritans is teenage suicide as a result of bullying.

She is also concerned about the risk of self-harm.

She added: “Young people are perhaps not aware that our services are available and that we are there to listen, not judge.

“We will try to help and support them through whatever it is that’s concerning them.”

There are 201 branches of the Samaritans throughout the UK and those in need can call the national helpline or access services offered by branches in their area.

In Darlington, young people make up small fraction of those accessing the Samaritans’ services, said Mrs McAllister.

To talk to the Samaritans, for help on any issue, call 08457-90-90-90, or email jo@samaritans.org

* There are branches of the Samaritans at 13 Woodland Road, Darlington; 7 Crosby Road, Northallerton; 147 Borough Road, Middlesbrough; 26 Sutton Street, Durham; 13 Grange Crescent, Stockton Road, Sunderland; 15 Portland Terrace, Newcastle; 5 Mount Parade, Harrogate and 89 Nunnery Lane, York.

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