Lakes & Dales Co-operative and Samaritans have announced the beginning of the year-long partnership, which aims to raise £300,000, as well as recruit local volunteers and raise vital awareness for the charity.
Every six seconds somebody contacts Samaritans for help and 2,000 trained volunteers across Scotland, Ireland and Northern England offer a safe space for people to access support 24 hours a day.
Funds raised through the partnership will help communities by ensuring the 42 branches across the regions can keep their doors open and respond to appeals for help. £300,000 could help Samaritans listen to 60,000 more calls from people in crisis.
Scotmid is Scotland’s largest independent co-operative and includes brands Semichem, Lakes & Dales Co-operative and Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Directors, who will all be involved in the fundraising.
John Brodie, Chief Executive of Scotmid Co-operative, said: “Everybody at Scotmid Co-operative is excited about the start of our year-long charity partnership with Samaritans and what we can achieve together over the next 12 months.
“Since 1859, Scotmid Co-operative has been at the heart of communities and during people’s everyday lives, they will experience difficulties and sometimes those problems can be overwhelming. When that happens, people will often require help or need to talk through their problems, which is where Samaritans provides an extremely valuable service.
“During this year-long charity partnership, one of our aims is to help educate our customers and members about Samaritans and the fact that it is alright to talk about your problems. Removing the stigma associated with talking about personal issues is one of the goals of this charity partnership and hopefully we can help to make a difference to the lives of our customers, members and staff.”
Representatives from Scotmid, Kilmarnock, Samaritans volunteers and caller Steven Fegan came together in the town to mark the beginning of the year-long partnership.
Steven Fegan of Kilmarnock found the support he received from Samaritans invaluable. The 33-year-old believes big life events played a part in his gradual downward spiral. Steven said: “I was struck down by a virus when I was 16 and it left my back and leg muscles so weak I needed to use a wheelchair.
“I don’t think I dealt with how I was feeling at the time and the feelings came back to trouble me more recently when my best friend took his own life. You have these feelings of guilt that you should have seen something or realised your friend was hurting.”
The feelings of hopelessness that gradually consumed Steven overwhelmed him and he began to self-harm. “I would wake every day feeling weak, and being a man, you’re supposed to be strong and I just felt like I was stressing my family out unnecessarily.”
Steven doesn’t know what drew him to call Samaritans one evening, but he was glad that he did. “I could hardly say anything at first, but the volunteer was brilliant, and there was no pressure on me to speak. Just by being on the phone, it stopped me from doing anything else.
“I am so pleased that Scotmid are supporting such a wonderful charity, the money raised will go a long way towards helping a lot of people. Just £5 helps Samaritans respond to someone struggling to cope and £46 will help them to train and support an existing volunteer for one year.”
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans CEO said “Steven is very brave to talk about what must have been a very difficult period of his life, and I’m so glad he reached out to Samaritans. Life can be tough and it can be all too easy to feel alone in the world with nowhere to turn. Our volunteers are there to listen 24 hours a day and we’re extremely grateful for Scotmid’s support. Funds raised through the partnership will help us to continue saving lives. We look forward to working together over the months ahead.”
Scotmid Co-operative helping Samaritans to be there when it matters – let the fundraising begin!