Samaritans are there to help you face the struggles over Christmas

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Samaritans are gearing up for the festive season and reminding people that no one needs to feel alone this Christmas.

If you’re struggling to cope with life, the pressure to have a good time can magnify your challenges and increase your sense of isolation, even with friends and family around you.

This is why Samaritans volunteers in the Luton and Dunstable areas will be there round the clock for anyone who feels they need to talk, in confidence, about whatever’s getting to them – on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and every other day of the year.

Samaritans’ director Ian Frank, of Luton South Beds and Harpenden branch, said: “Someone contacts Samaritans every six seconds. Problems don’t go away just because it’s Christmas, so if you’re finding it hard to look forward to the festive season, we’re here for you. If it’s too difficult to open up to friends or family, or you feel you have no one who will listen, talk to us. We’ll keep whatever you say safe, we won’t judge and we’ll help you find a way through.”

Julie is a Samaritans volunteer in the Luton branch at 33 Cardiff Road, and has answered hundreds of calls for help from people finding Christmas and New Year an ordeal.

She said: “It may be your first Christmas without your children because of a separation. Or you may be bereaved, or struggling with redundancy, debt, your health, relationships or family issues. It’s OK to not be having a good time, and you don’t have to put on a brave face for us. You can talk to us, by phone, email or face to face in our branch. However difficult your thoughts and feelings are, knowing that we care and that we will listen can make all the difference.”

Last year Samaritans responded to more than 5.3 million calls for help from people struggling to cope, with nearly 200,000 contacts to the charity over the festive season alone.

Samaritans relies almost entirely on donations to run its 201 branches and train its 21,200 volunteers, who also provide emotional support in schools, workplaces, prisons and throughout their local communities.

If you would like to support Samaritans by making a donation, you can find out how you can help at www.samaritans.org/christmas