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The Samaritans

Mission: The Samaritans provides confidential emotional support to anyone who is suicidal or in general distress, regardless of age, creed, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

Beneficiaries: Infants and Children, Youth, Women, Men, Elderly, Mentally and Emotionally Disabled/ Challenged, Medical Conditions, Families and Community, Formal Non-Commercial Organization, Social enterprises and other non-governmental organizations, Others (Persons in distress, which may lead to suicide).

Top needs:

• Venue for the new centre: Currently, both our central office and the 24/7 hotline are based in our only centre located in Chai Wan. The space is already fully used up with 3 hotline operation rooms and workspaces for 5 staff. With the maximum capacity of 30 people, the number of volunteers we are able to recruit in each volunteer training is also capped. Establishing a new centre will not only allow us to recruit more staff and volunteers, but also enable new service opportunities including individual counselling sessions and centre-based mutual-support group.
• Funding of HKD 2,000,000: The amount can cover the costs of 1) rental and operation fees for a new centre, 2) recruiting a counsellor who will conduct individual counselling and mutual-support group sessions, and 3) a training specialist who will develop new centre-based training programs aiming to raise public awareness and understanding of mental health issues for 1 year.
• Hotline equipment: We are hoping to upgrade the existing hotline system and make it accessible also at home for volunteers. The flexibility could help us better cope with unexpected circumstances like the outbreak of COVID-19 this year, increase the number of calls we can pick up at the same time, and potentially increase the incentives for new volunteers to join us.

Top 3 challenges:

• Staffing: We are an aspiring organisation actively growing and expanding the scope of service. As much as we need more staff, we will first need more space and financial support.
• Volunteers: Our volunteers are always on the phone, meaning many calls cannot reach us and we need more volunteers in one shift to pick them up.
• Hotline operation: Our hotline is pledged to be 24/7. Despite COVID-19 risks, suspension of service delivery or work-from-home arrangement is not possible due to confidentiality concerns and restrictions of landline telephones. Our volunteers must come to the centre for their duties.

Impact on beneficiaries:

We received 87 calls every day on average. 58 STAR sessions with 966 participants were held. 92 trained Young Samaritans promoted mental awareness in 22 schools, reaching more than 12,000 peers. Evaluations reflected decreased stigma towards mental disorders, increased willingness to share feelings and to seek professional help when needed.

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