Money raised for Samaritans by the Barnsley branch of Leeds Building Society will be used to enhance the charity’s technology to help its volunteers move faster between phone, email and chat responses.
Between 2016 and 2017, contacts to Samaritans by text and email were up more than a quarter, from around 683,000 to 868,000, with many people preferring to message than pick up the phone.
Leeds Building Society colleagues and its members voted in their numbers to support a project that will boost the technology available to Samaritans volunteers.
The Society is aiming to raise £250,000 by 2020 to pay for new equipment, including laptops, headsets and phones across all 201 Samaritans branches. This kit will enable volunteers to move more easily between communication channels and react more quickly to the demand for round the clock emotional support services for anyone who is struggling.
Just three months into the partnership, more than £40,000 has been raised by colleagues and members through the Society’s Brew Monday activities, its 100 ways to say hello competition, bake sales and cycling events. The Society also donated £5,645 raised by members’ votes, as part of its annual general meeting (AGM).
Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said: “We’re delighted Leeds Building Society colleagues and members voted to support our technology project. The money raised will ensure we remain relevant and accessible to people’s changing needs and help us respond quickly to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed.
“It’s so inspiring to see staff and the public across the country, getting behind the partnership and that so many creative and fun-filled fundraising activities are being put on to support us.”
Richard Fearon, Leeds Building Society’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We strongly believe Leeds Building Society’s philosophy of people helping people links very closely with the work of Samaritans. We knew this partnership would strike a chord with our colleagues and members, and we saw a large number of them taking part in the vote to choose this worthwhile project.
“We are pleased to be able to support Samaritans in enhancing the technology available to its volunteers as we know this will make a difference to the way they can support people contacting them.
“Our partnership has got off to a fantastic start with colleagues and members raising £40,000 in just three months and there is still a great deal to come in the future.”
Samaritans is also piloting a web chat option later this year, to provide people needing emotional support with another way of making contact.