Since 1953, the Samaritans have been offering their free and confidential services to people over the phone. Also available via web chat, text, email, and post, the Samaritans now runs centres across the world to ensure as many people as possible are offered the help and support they need during a time of crisis.

The Samaritans began life as a suicide helpline run by a parish priest. But it rapidly grew beyond that, and the charity has volunteers available to listen at all hours of the day to any difficulties you may be facing, not just suicidal feelings.

No matter your age, no matter your problem, the Samaritans are there to listen and speak with you and help you through the struggles you are dealing with.

We are going to find out the telephone number for the Samaritans and explore exactly what they do and how they may be able to help you.

The phone number for the Samaritans in the UK is 116 123. It is free to call and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Samaritans has an international network under the name of Befrienders Worldwide that has 349 support centres in 32 countries. If you live outside of the UK, search online to find a centre that can support you.

So let's jump in and find out what happens when you call the Samaritans.

When you call the Samaritans, your number is not displayed to any of the volunteer phone operators, so your identity remains entirely confidential. A volunteer will answer your call and say, "Hello, Samaritans. How can I help you?"

You are then given as much time and space as you need to talk to them about anything that is troubling you. The volunteer listener may ask you some questions about your thoughts and feelings, but they will never tell you what to do. They won't make decisions, but they will listen patiently and entirely without judgment.

You can call the Samaritans any time of day on any day of the year, and someone will be there to listen and speak with you.

The Samaritans are available to call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can call the Samaritans with any issue you have that you are unable to share with people in your life or that you want to share anonymously. You may have a close family network or a partner that you don't want to know about what you are going through. Or you may not have anyone to turn to and need to share your problems in a safe and non-judgmental space.

Whatever you are facing, the Samaritans are there all year round to listen and help you overcome the difficulties in your life.

As well as being available by phone, you can also contact the Samaritans via their web chat service, text email, or by post.

The web chat service is available via the Samaritans website.

If you want to communicate via text, the Samaritans are linked to SHOUT, which is a 24/7 text service for UK people in crisis. Text SHOUT directly at 85258.

If you want to email the Samaritans, send your message to [email protected]. It may take a few days to receive a reply, but every email is responded to by Samaritan volunteers.

To write to the Samaritans, put your letter in an envelope and send it to:


The Samaritans aim to reply to every letter they receive within seven days. You will receive a personal, handwritten response from a volunteer who will have read your letter.

Many people find that writing - whether by email or letter - is a better way to communicate their feelings. They may find that talking on the phone is too upsetting or that the writing process gives them a greater understanding of the problems they are facing and what their thoughts are regarding it.

You don't need to worry about writing well or getting all your spelling and grammar right. You just need to make sure the letter is legible, so the volunteer who reads it is able to respond appropriately.

Anyone can call the Samaritans, no matter their age, religion, sexuality, etc.

The Samaritans started in the 1950s as a helpline for people who were feeling suicidal. While you can still call if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, the Samaritans are there to listen to any problems you may have that you want to share in a safe and confidential space.

Their website details some of the issues you may call them with:

  • relationship or family problems
  • loss and bereavement
  • financial struggles and worries
  • work-related stress
  • study-related stress
  • loneliness
  • depression
  • pain or physical illness
  • drug or alcohol dependency
  • suicidal thoughts

If you are under 18 or a vulnerable adult, the Samaritans put you first and will not disclose any information you tell them unless they think your safety may be at risk.

If something you tell them gives them concern about your safety, there is a safeguarding policy in place to ensure you are kept safe. This applies to all young people under 18 who call and some adults who are vulnerable due to their mental health or any impairments they may have.

If, after your call, the volunteer you have spoken to determines that something should be done to protect your safety, they may do one of the following things:

  • They may pass your details to people who can provide immediate help, such as the ambulance service or the police
  • They may contact social services and ask them to arrange a meeting with you to ensure you get the assistance and help you need

These can only be done if you share the relevant information. If the volunteer you speak to is given cause for concern, they may gently ask for more information about you, such as your name and address.

Confidentiality is paramount for the Samaritans, and they will only ask for such information or pass it on to the relevant services if they are seriously worried about something you have said.

To become a volunteer with the Samaritans, you first need to fill out an enquiry form. Then you will have an interview to ensure you are right for the role, followed by training.

Volunteers with the Samaritans spend a total of over one million hours each year listening and responding to callers, with a call being made to the Samaritans every ten seconds. As a volunteer, every minute of those one million hours has the potential to change someone's life.

When you begin as a volunteer with the Samaritans, you receive training to ensure you are prepared for the different kinds of conversations you may have, and you will be assigned a mentor to guide you through your first few shifts.

Volunteers often find that they develop new skills in their role that are highly valued in other aspects of their life, such as their interpersonal relationships and workplace.

Because the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day all year round, volunteers are typically required to do at least one shift per week, lasting three or four hours. They are also asked to do one-night shift per month.

The Samaritans was founded in London in 1953 by Church of England vicar Chad Varah. Despite its name and the occupation of its founder, the Samaritans is not a religious organisation.

As a local cleric, Varah was familiar with the daily needs and struggles of his parishioners, and he offered forms of counselling to those who had needed it throughout his career as a parish priest.

After seeing a number of families losing loved ones to suicide, Varah was eager to set up an organisation to help those who felt they wanted to end their lives find the help they needed to see that their future could be more hopeful. He wanted to create an emergency line for the suicidal, somewhere they could turn to when they felt they had nowhere else.

A month after launching his service, the Daily Mirror newspaper ran the headline: "Telephone Good Samaritan." This name then stuck and has remained ever since.

Within just a few months, volunteers contacted Varah, offering their services to assist him with his operation. Although he was sceptical at first, Varah soon saw the value they had, and he handed over the telephone communications to volunteers. The role of the volunteers was and is to listen confidentially, without judgment. This remains key to the fundamental principles and ethos of the Samaritans.

Varah began his services as just one man with a phone who was willing to listen. And, in the ensuing 70 years, his charity has grown into an international operation with tens of thousands of volunteers and workers worldwide.

The Samaritans gets its name from the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, as told by Jesus in Luke's Gospel. Although, as we have already discussed, the Samaritans is not a religious organisation.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most widely discussed and interpreted parables in the Bible. It refers to a Jewish traveller who is beaten, stripped of his clothes, and left to die by the side of the road by robbers. The first two people to pass him are a Jewish priest and a Levite man - Levites were a Jewish tribe - both of whom ignore the dying man.

Then, a man from the ethnoreligious Samaritan group (who traditionally do not get along with Jews) passes the beaten Jewish man and helps him.

Jesus then says, "go and do likewise."

The parable shows that despite the Samaritan's difference in faith, he helped someone in need, and that is the most important aspect of his character.

The parable has been the subject of paintings, sculptures, films, and poetry and lends its name to many organisations, including the Samaritans.

The Samaritans offer a vital community service that is not funded by the government or any local authority. The idea is simple: listen confidentially and without judgment.

Although the service is available, whatever you may be struggling with, the UK depression and suicide statistics are particularly pertinent when discussing the necessity of the Samaritans.

Over 6,000 people commit suicide in the UK each year, and it is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 50. One in 20 will attempt to take their life at some point.

Anyone in such a situation deserves help, and the Samaritans are there to offer it to them.

The phone number for the Samaritans in the UK is 116 123. You can call them any time of day, any day of the year. The charity was initially set up to help those who were struggling with suicidal feelings, but now they are there to listen to any issues you may have that you want to share confidentially with someone who does not know you and will not judge your situation.

No matter how isolated or alone you may feel, there is always someone there to listen and help. If you are struggling with anything in your life and want to talk to someone about it, call the Samaritans for free today.