Over the last five weeks we have focused on the work of the local Horsham and Crawley Samaritans.
We have outlined the importance of the 24-hour listening and support service, explored how volunteers are recruited and trained, looked at how the branch works with local schools, work places and Network Rail and have also featured real stories from users of the service.
But how often do we think about how the branch is actually funded? How do we afford to keep the centre in Horsham town centre up and running? How do we pay for equipment and materials needed for us to function?
Many people assume that the Samaritans is an organisation that is fully funded by the government, but this is not the case. As an affiliate branch to the national charity, we are responsible for our own fundraising to cover all of our costs. We work in a challenging environment where the demand for our service is increasing and where there is increased competition for the funding available. Our income comes from a variety of sources, from individuals and from local and national trusts and foundations as well as local businesses.
We have been very fortunate in the past to have attracted funding from gifts left in people’s wills. A legacy to Samaritans can be a practical way to ensure that we are able to support people locally and can serve as a memorial to a loved one. Often gifts in wills come from someone who has been a Samaritan or who has benefited from our service during their lives and want to ensure that it carries on into the future.
Funding is something we are all very aware of in the branch and we can often be found at supermarkets, garden centres or town events, wearing our familiar green tabards. Here we raise awareness of or work, talk to the public and collect much needed funds. On a number of occasions someone has quietly walked over to us, folded a ten pound note up for our tin, given us a smile and whispered ‘thank you’.
Some volunteers in the branch have an affinity towards dance, dressing up and even flipping pancakes in the annual race in the Carfax.
We are eternally grateful to our volunteers who on occasions have been known to don our large, cardboard telephone box mascot! Whatever it takes to raise awareness of our service.
We are also delighted when asked to take part in local events such as the English Festival, where the generosity of the organisers, performers and the public was staggering. All of these activities help to make people aware of their local Samaritans branch and certainly makes a valuable contribution towards our costs and overheads.
Within the local branch we work hard to raise funding from local businesses, Trusts and Foundations who are interested in the work we do and are always most grateful to the Trustees who select us as beneficiaries of their grant funding. We simply couldn’t run our service without their support.
As a local branch we are really looking forward to 2019 and working alongside our new Director, Kevin Hawkes. Kevin is a highly experienced Samaritan and takes on his new voluntary role with much enthusiasm and many ideas. We also hope very much to be working again soon with our Patron Dame Julie Walters. Her support and passion for our work has been very much appreciated over the years.
If you or your business would like to support the work of your local Samaritans branch then please contact us on 01403 270027. We would be delighted to meet with you and to explain more about the work that we do and how we serve the local community.