Today is World Samaritans Awareness Day, raising awareness of the service provided by the charity as part of their ‘Talk to Us’ month as they spread the word of how they are there to help, every single day of the year.
Wolves Foundation, via the Head 4 Health programme which focuses on helping adults improve their mental health, have built up a really valuable relationship with Wolverhampton Samaritans, who come in and speak to every different cohort.
The most recent visit to a session came just ten days ago, and Steve Maiden, one of the Foundation’s Health Officers involved with Head 4 Health, explains more.
“The Samaritans visit every one of our Head 4 Health cohorts, telling participants all about their services in terms of what they offer and how they go about delivering them,” says Steve.
“It really is amazing what they offer.
“Before I first met them, I thought the Samaritans only really took calls from people who were having suicidal thoughts, but it is about so much more than that.
“They will take calls on mental health issues, financial issues, housing issues – they are there for anyone who has a problem and they are there to listen.
“The staff also talked about techniques with our participants, such as how to act if you are on a railway station and see somebody standing close to the tracks which doesn’t look right.
“In that situation it’s just about going over and saying, ‘are you ok?’, because that ten seconds break could be what’s needed for someone to break a thought pattern and for someone to ask for help.
“They also spoke about their 5-4-3-2-1 grounding techniques where you can use your senses if you are feeling anxious or to help during distressing situations.
“And then there was an exercise about how we talk and interact with people where there was a picture of a celebrity which was screwed up and passed around the room with everyone saying something horrible about them.
“At the end of it, the picture was opened up and passed back around with everyone apologising for what they had said.
“But obviously, even though the picture was open it was still creased, and the moral of the story is to always think about what you say because even if you apologise, you can never get the crease out and people don’t forget when someone has been horrible.
“It was another really worthwhile session which participants really engaged with and took a lot from in learning all about the Samaritans.”
The relationship between the Samaritans and the Foundation is now into its fifth year, and forms another important part of the overall Head 4 Health project which delivers informal but educational workshops and physical activity to help people improve mental health.
And, during ‘Talk to Us’ month, it’s a reminder of how much progress participants can make once they engage and share stories and experiences.
“The big part of any conversations when somebody is ready to talk is to make sure that you listen,” adds Steve.
“And that is what we are about with Head 4 Health.
“If you listen, and people can see you really listening and taking in what they are saying, week by week they will tell you more.
“Listening is the best tool and the best medicine.
“We have seen with many of our participants how they come and say nothing for three weeks but gradually their confidence improves, their mental health improves, and, sometimes in the middle of a session, it will all come out.
“By the time they reach the sixth week they are really comfortable and feeling a lot better about themselves thanks to being involved in the group – it is very much like a release.”
Head 4 Health is one of the Foundation’s flagship projects and is made possible thanks to funding from the PFA and Premier League Community Fund, with additional support from the City of Wolverhampton Council.