Express & Star

Councillors urges residents in crisis to ring Samaritans ahead of December 22 awareness event

A councillor who owes his life to a someone who listened to him in his hour of need wants to remind people the Samaritans will be on hand this Christmas and throughout the year.

Councillor Tom Loughborough-Rudd

Tom Loughborough-Rudd, who represents Burntwood North, commended the work of Samaritans, who provide a free listening ear 24 hours a day to anyone experiencing emotional distress.

On Friday, Staffordshire County Council will be marking the longest night of the year by lighting in green the outside of several of its buildings, including Shire Hall in Stafford town centre. Residents, organisations and businesses are also being encouraged to display green lights in their windows.

Council leader Alan White said: “We want to use the date to remind anyone in need that the Samaritans are there for them during their darkest hours, including over Christmas and New Year. Last year, Samaritans volunteers responded to 244,254 calls in the UK and Ireland over the festive period and this year volunteers in Staffordshire will be there round-the-clock to make sure people who are struggling always have someone to turn to.

Councillor Loughborough-Rudd spoke of his own experience of the charity’s support at Thursday’s full council meeting. He said: “I owe my life to one of the workers who talked to me two years ago and I would like to credit them for that – I hope the work they do continues because they are a wonderful organisation.

“It’s no secret that I myself suffer from mental health issues; indeed a senior member of the cabinet suggested that I ring Samaritans. Two years ago this week my best friend killed himself and my grandfather died on Christmas Day that year.

“Mental health is a prominent issue in this area, but we are making some progress with regards to this. And we should remember that this time of year is going to be very difficult – it doesn’t matter what position you are in, mental health affects everybody.”

Council chairman Phil Hewitt thanked Councillor Loughborough-Rudd for sharing his personal experience. And fellow Lichfield area councillor Richard Cox said Lichfield District Council would also be taking part in next week’s awareness-raising event.

Councillor and doctor Johnny McMahon said: “I had a patient in Cannock who was going through considerable difficulty when I saw him as a GP. I recently, quite by accident, met up with him again and he’s a completely changed man.

“The reason he is a completely changed man is because he’s got involved in the voluntary sector to help people who have had similar issues to him."

Councillor Ann Edgeller, the county council’s mental health champion, said: “Every school needs a quiet place where children can go if they’ve got a problem and they can talk to somebody.

“Let’s make Staffordshire green on 22nd December. We need to highlight it – mental health is such a major problem, it’s growing every day and It’s the children I really feel for.

“I want to thank not only the Samaritans but every single person in Staffordshire working with people with mental health problems. You’re doing a fantastic job.”

For more information on taking part in the December 22 Longest Night campaign, as well as contact details for organisations that can support people with mental health issues, visit

If you are experiencing emotional distress you can call Samaritans free, 24 hours a day, from any phone – even a mobile with no credit – on 116 123.

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