This year Chesterfield Samaritans celebrate their 50th Anniversary 1971-2021.
In 1953, an Anglican priest called Chad Varah founded Samaritans - the world's first crisis hotline, to provide telephone support to those contemplating suicide.
On 24 February 1971, a local resident named Ray Jones had read about the work of Samaritans and decided to try and form a local branch so he placed an advert in the Derbyshire Times about a meeting to be held at the local college. The group had to undergo training, find premises to work from and on 5 September 1971 at 3 pm, Chesterfield Samaritans took their first call from their base at Mount Zion chapel in Chesterfield.
Ray Jones became the first Branch Director.
Thanks to Ray and his fellow founding listening volunteers, Chesterfield Samaritans has gone from strength to strength, moving to 2 Rose Hill and latterly at the present base at 121 Saltergate, Chesterfield.
Samaritans were largely a crisis line for those experiencing feelings of suicide but today we are there to listen 24/7 for anyone who needs us.
We support our callers through the mediums of telephone, emails and will hopefully be operating on-line chat in the near future.
We have supported the local community at various times at the local soup kitchen, events such as Pride, the local markets, HMP Sudbury (prison), Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Network Rail, Chatsworth Show and many more events.
Keeping the branch open during the initial Coronavirus lockdown proved a challenge with many volunteers self-Isolating or shielding but we managed to provide a normal service due to volunteers going the extra mile. We also supported the NHS, and key workers on a dedicated support line, manned by volunteers from home, a new, innovative way of answering calls during the lockdown.
SUNDAY 19 SEPTEMBER
The Samaritans Picnic at Chatsworth House where we'd love to see you.
See our website for details:
Samaritans were able to maintain a 24/7 service all through the pandemic. During 2019 volunteers responded to 3.3 million telephone calls, 400,000 emails, 1,100 letters and 23,000 face to face callers.
We have a Charity Shop situated on West Bars. Being self-funding, we rely on our shop and local donations to enable us to keep supporting our local community.
We would like to thank the following for nominating us as their ‘Charity for 2021’ - The Mayor of Chesterfield, The East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Fred's Haberdashery in Chesterfield.
We would also like to thank our Patron, the Duchess of Cavendish for her support.
We have various plans to celebrate our 50 years as a branch, a recent BBQ at 121 Saltergate took place, in August there was an 'open day’ at our shop and we supported Pride on Sunday 22 August.
Right now we are seeking volunteers to help with tasks in our charity shop. If you have some spare time and would like to get involved please call our shop direct on 01246 229459.