Lifelink issues a call for help

A YOUNG man rings Lifelink Samaritans and tells a volunteer that he wants to end his life.

A baby is heard crying in the background.

"He said he didn't want to be here," Lifelink Samaritans telephone befriender Kim Brundle-Lawrence said.

"In the next minute I heard a fairly newborn baby ... you concentrate on that," she said.

"We talked for about an hour and a half and he ended up taking the baby for a walk. He ended up ringing back later and saying thank you.

"It was just good to hear his voice again."

It is phone calls like this that the Lifelink Samaritans phone befriending service does not want to miss, but dwindling volunteer numbers are causing great concern for the organisation.

Last year it was unable to provide the You Are Not Alone at Christmas phone service.

This year, it is looking for new volunteers.

Lifelink Samaritans president Helene Whitehead said a seven- week training session for new volunteers would start on February 15.

She said the minimum time requirement was just nine hours per month, either in the day or night.

"There are people out there who are lonely, or sad, who just need someone to talk to. We provide the gift of time. We are here, we listen and we care," Mrs Whitehead said.

"I was speaking to a woman on nightshift who was so grateful that someone was there.

"She had resurfacing life problems and would panic.

"So you talk to the person for an hour or so, they calm down, they feel better, and they say, `thank you I can go back to bed now and tomorrow I will go and do such and such'."

Volunteer Samaritans training co-ordinator Peter O'Sullivan said the one day a week training sessions covered a range of topics including how to be a helpful and active listener, and how to help grief stricken callers and those with mental health issues.

He said a new volunteer base was crucial to the future of the organisation, which was Tasmania's first phone befriending service, operating since 1968.

To enrol in the Lifelink Samaritans training program, which costs $100, and become a volunteer phone Peter O'Sullivan on 0409 415 917 or Lifelink Samaritans during business hours on 6331 3355.

•If you need help and want to talk to someone call Lifelink Samaritans on 1300 364 566.

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