The Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Mr. Colm Brophy, T.D., today launched Samaritans Freephone helpline for the Irish diaspora in Canada and Australia.
Samaritans, in partnership with the Government of Ireland through the Emigrant Support Programme, have been working together to provide 24-hour Freephone access to the Samaritans helpline in Ireland for Irish people in a number of countries abroad. The purpose of this project is to provide access to a culturally sensitive emotional support resource for the Irish abroad who are in distress, struggling to cope and who are in need of emotional support.
Members of the diaspora are signposted to Samaritans through the relevant Irish Embassy, or Irish community organisation, in that particular country. All calls to this number are connected to a Samaritan volunteer in Ireland via a technical divert, and are free of charge to the caller.
Since 2018, the service has operated on a pilot basis initially in the United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong and Poland. Following this pilot, the service will now extend to Canada and Australia.
Announcing the launch of the service, the Minister said:
“I am delighted to support, and work in partnership with, Samaritans. Supporting the mental health of emigrants and Irish communities abroad has been a particular focus of the work of the Emigrant Support Programme. However, the need has become even more evident since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although language is not a barrier to services in these cases, the distance from home, and the limitations imposed by the current restrictions in place, mean that many people are feeling increased loneliness and isolation, particularly following the Christmas and New Year period.
Ireland greatly values our diaspora, whose energy, expertise and experience has done much to build Ireland’s reach and reputation in the world. In today’s world, where change and uncertainty appear to be the order of the day, our commitment to the Irish abroad remains steadfast”.
Minister Brophy went on to acknowledge the work carried out by Samaritan volunteers, saying:
“I would like to thank Samaritans for their dedication to supporting our diaspora through their important work, particularly at a time when many among our diaspora are facing emotional difficulties in a challenging and changing environment.
This Freephone service will be an invaluable resource for many of our diaspora in the New Year and beyond”.
These freephone numbers are being launched on ‘Brew Monday’, the third Monday in January normally dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, but which Samaritans turn into something positive by urging people to stay connected and share a virtual cuppa.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said:
“Samaritans is delighted that we have been able to offer emotional support to members of the diaspora who are in distress or struggling to cope while living so far away from home.
Our partnership with the Government of Ireland, through the Emigrant Support Programme, is a vital support to those who need us, and we are excited that a pilot project launched in 2018 is now being extended to Irish people living in Canada and Australia. It is so important that people in these countries can now access the support of our volunteers with no cost.
The challenges many people face during winter have been felt even more acutely this year with the pandemic restrictions. At Samaritans, we know how powerful talking and listening can be, even if it is virtually. This Brew Monday we are asking everyone to take the time to listen and support one another. It could save a life.”
Note for Editors:
- The freephone numbers for the Samaritans helpline in Canada and Australia can be found in table below, alongside other numbers available to those in Ireland and abroad. Alternatively Irish abroad in Canada and Australia can get in contact through the Irish Embassy, and see details on their Twitter pages: @IrlEmbCanada or @IrlEmbAustralia
- Emigrant Support Programme: Since 1984, the Irish Government has given financial support to voluntary agencies providing advice and welfare services to Irish emigrants overseas. The Department of Foreign Affairs, working through Ireland’s Embassy Network, coordinates the provision of support to communities abroad and administers the programme.
- The main focus for funding under the Emigrant Support Programme remains the frontline welfare service providers that support elderly Irish emigrants, and other vulnerable members of our communities worldwide. In more recent years the programme has also recognised the importance of strong and active Irish communities more generally, funding projects which foster a sense of community, promoting vibrant networks and a sense of Irishness among the Irish abroad.
- Emigration and the experience of living away from home can be psychologically and emotionally challenging. Many projects supported through the Emigrant Support Programme help to support the most vulnerable among our emigrant communities, helping people to access the services to which they are entitled, and supporting their wellbeing, emotional and mental health.
- The Emigrant Support Programme funding year runs from 1 July – 30 June. Further details can be found on www.dfa.ie
- Samaritans provides a 24-hour helpline, text and email service for people who are in distress, struggling to cope and who are in need of emotional support, including those who are feeling suicidal. Samaritans vision is that fewer people die by suicide and we do that by making sure there’s someone there for anyone who needs us, when they need us, how they need us.
- Anyone in Ireland can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit samaritans.ie
1800 570699 (freephone)
+1 833 951 2484 (freephone)
Mainland China (freephone)
China Telecom (freephone)
China Netcom (freephone)
Hong Kong (freephone)
United Arab Emirates
800 04444409 (freephone)
800 012 274 (freephone)
24 Hour Telephone Helplines:116 123
24 Hour Email Helpline