Samaritans in pole position at International North West 200

DURING this week’s North West 200 International road race festival, Samaritans volunteers will be providing face-to-face emotional support on the streets of Portrush for the ninth consecutive year.

This unique outreach programme, provided annually by Samaritans, offers emotional support to everyone attending the festival but is particularly geared towards men from 35 to 55 who are often reluctant to seek help or talk openly about their problems.

Samaritans presence and focus at the North West 200 reflects the findings of a report, to be launched later this month, which highlights the barriers that exist for men in engaging with services. The report identifies the need to design new ways that may be more effective in reaching men who may be struggling to cope. Events such as this allow Samaritans to go direct to those in emotional need who wouldn’t ordinarily come directly to them.

Samaritans Festival Coordinator, Aidan O Keeffe, said: “On average, around 289 people take their own lives in Northern Ireland each year and men from low socio-economic backgrounds living in deprived areas are ten times more likely to die by suicide than men from high socio-economic backgrounds living in the most affluent areas.

“Having the chance to talk about your feelings is as important as ever, particularly as people are trying to cope with the present economic downturn. Samaritans are providing a unique opportunity this weekend in Portrush for anyone in need of emotional support to talk to our volunteers. We will be out and about, day and night, whatever the weather.”

Aiden adds: “Samaritans festival volunteers will provide that special face-to-face listening support and will do so in a confidential way. We encourage people who may be feeling a little down to use our service over the weekend to help release the pressure valve by talking about what may be troubling them. Our volunteers will listen and never make a judgement. It is something we as Samaritans are trained to do”.