This March the Million Hour Challenge, reached its two-year milestone in a five-year ambition, which aims to bring the sector together to donate its time to help the charity be there for those struggling to cope, whilst also improving mental health and wellbeing for rail industry staff.
Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR said: “I’ve seen and felt the impact of suicide on a personal level and understand the importance of the work the Samaritans does. We launched the Million Hour Challenge to support the industry’s long-standing partnership with the charity, whose care and support is vital. Over the last few years, this has benefitted the health and wellbeing of our staff by volunteering their time to undertake training, fundraising or listening and help Samaritans with increasing demand for their services.”
Research from Samaritans reveals the profound impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health as over a fifth of calls for help to the charity have been related to coronavirus in the past year, although Samaritans’ volunteers indicate that the pandemic has affected all callers in some way. This includes the knock-on effects of the pandemic such as social isolation, relationship breakdown and financial worries.
To continue to help Samaritans be there, rail staff can get involved in a variety of ways that are still within current pandemic restrictions; simply by signing up to the Challenge’s website and logging their chosen activity hours contributing to the ambitious target. This includes:
- Fundraising activities – such as Samarathon, a challenge to run, jog or walk a marathon within a month
- Awareness or workplace tea events including Brew Monday to support staff wellbeing
- Online training – ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’ toolkit and ‘Managing Suicidal Contacts’ course
- Sharing and raising awareness of Samaritans’ services on social media
- Possible volunteering opportunities with local branches – including training to become a listening volunteer or admin and support roles
Julie Bentley, Samaritans’ CEO, said: “At Samaritans, listening to our helpline callers, we know that the pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s mental health and has magnified many worries they might have faced before, such as finances or loneliness. As we start to look beyond lockdown, the long-term impact is concerning with pressures likely to continue for some time.
“That’s why we’re so grateful for the rail industry’s support and commitment to Samaritans, to not only help the charity to be there for everyone who needs us, but also in recognising the need to look after the industry’s own wellbeing right now too.”