THE BLOG

Building Support for Servicemen and Women and Their Families That's Just One Click Away

17/03/2016 11:01 GMT | Updated 18/03/2017 09:12 GMT
Ben Birchall/PA Archive

Samaritans has long been aware that servicemen and women often struggle with the legacy of the experiences they have undergone while serving. These can affect them both at the time and many years later.

To have someone to talk to whenever you need them, even if it is at 3am, someone who will keep what you tell them private and won't judge you, is invaluable.

Servicemen and women, scattered all over the world, need support they can access anytime, anywhere. And they need help when they have left the services too, as there is evidence that the transition to civilian life can be a difficult one.

Training service personnel to support each other, a skill which can be used after they leave the services, is also crucial to make sure as many people as possible can get help when they are struggling.

As announced on Wednesday in the Budget, Samaritans has been awarded £3.5million over three years to develop round the clock online support and peer support training for military personnel, veterans and their families.

The money is from the Libor fund, set up following the rate-fixing issue, where fines paid by the banks were passed on to the voluntary sector to fund specific projects.

The idea is that for anyone struggling, help is just one click away.

Samaritans already has the technology to deliver a first point of contact online support service, but as well as allowing servicemen and women and their families and veterans to get support via SMS and email, instant messaging will be used for the first time.

Samaritans has the scale, reach and knowledge to help people deal with life's challenges. We will be giving service men and women vital skills in listening and supporting others that they can use in their careers and later in their civilian lives.

As part of the Network rail partnership, which has been running since 2010, Samaritans has developed expertise in delivering suicide prevention training to staff in a large organisation.

So we are in a good position to set up a UK wide online training scheme, similar to the one we developed for 200,000 Network Rail staff, so that military men and women have the skills to support each other, and this will also help their transition from military to civilian life.

Samaritans has a track record in tailoring our services to the needs of those who may be more at risk of taking their own lives. For example, our listening scheme in prisons, now in its 25th year, trains prisoners in listening skills so they can offer emotional support to those finding it difficult to cope inside.

The aim is to create a service so that that there will always be effective help available for servicemen, women, their families and veterans round the clock, wherever they are and whatever they have experienced.