Samaritans, which provides a listening ear round the clock to people experiencing emotional distress, is celebrating its 70th anniversary nationally this year.
The Stafford branch of the charity, based in Garden Street, is also marking its 60th anniversary locally. And Stafford Borough Council is set to pay tribute to the caring volunteers by planting a tree in Victoria Park.
Ann Edgeller, who proposed the motion at this month’s full borough council meeting, said: “The Samaritans do a tremendous amount of good work helping people when they are in crisis. You never know from day to day if you might need their help and I would hope everyone in the chamber would support this motion to recognise the amount of good work the Samaritans do within the borough.”
Councillor Jeremy Pert, who seconded the motion, said: “A good Samaritan is someone who is compassionate and helps people in trouble. I happened to visit the Samaritans in Garden Street a couple of years ago and the work they do in terms of prison and school outreach, as well as their listening service, is without parallel, offering confidential emotional support often when people are at their lowest and in distress.
“They are a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide. The fact that they have been operating within Stafford for the last 60 years is something we that should recognise.”
Fellow councillors voted unanimously to support the motion. Councillor Mark Winnington said: “I have had a lot of dealings with the Samaritans over the years in Stafford.When I was chair of West Midlands Rail we worked with the Samaritans to put posters at all the stations to say, in a discreet way, if you are not feeling happy and want some help, pop along.
“They do a great job along with other partners including from the church. We don’t realise how people are suffering and what the ultimate effect of that can be.”
Councillor Ralph Cooke said: “Not that long ago Samaritans did a big favour for Stafford and my ward, Penkside, in particular. They arranged the planting of 70 saplings to celebrate and they have been planted in Meadow Road Park.
“The hope is they will grow into a decent copse where people can go sit down quietly and contemplate without all the noise and bustle around them. They’re also going to provide a bench so I have great gratitude to the Samaritans for that – it’s nice we’re going to give them a tree in exchange.”
If you are experiencing emotional distress you can call Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123.