"The only regret I have is not volunteering for Samaritans sooner"

18 January 2021
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Samaritans Brew Monday

Speaking on the latest Rail and Road Pod; Samaritans, Office of Rail and Road and Network Rail, encourage those in the rail industry to reach out to someone they care about over a virtual cuppa and get involved in the industry’s Million Hour Challenge.

Making a difference

Paul Johnson of Network Rail and Samaritans Listening Volunteer told the podcast why he became a volunteer and hoped to inspire people to volunteer at their local branch. “I really wanted to give something back to society but wanted to do something to fit around full time job and family commitments,” he told the Pod. “I was looking for something that I would also benefit from and I was pointed to an open day with Samaritans and within five minutes I knew it was for me – yes will make a big difference but will get more out.

"If you have any inclination that may want to be a listening volunteer, get in touch with local branch and follow gut instinct. The only regret I have about becoming a listening volunteer is that I didn't do it sooner."

Current lockdown restrictions mean that Samaritans’ volunteers cannot be at stations speaking to passengers about the importance of staying connected, so for Brew Monday this year Samaritans is encouraging people to reach out to someone they care about for a virtual cuppa and chat. 

Brew Monday during a pandemic

Jason Samaritans said: “Brew Monday has been run each year but we turn it on its head this year to reach out to someone to have a virtual cuppa, although [people] may be isolated it is even more crucial to stay connected. The rail industry is behind the campaign and encouraging their staff to get involved for a virtual cuppa.”

Million Hour Challenge 

The Million Hour Challenge was launched in 2019 with the rail industry coming together to volunteer one million hours to support Samaritans vision that fewer people die by suicide. The Million Hour Challenge is helping Samaritans be there for people who are struggling to cope and aims to improve mental health and wellbeing within the rail industry.

Ian Prosser, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Railways who is one of the key figures behind the challenge, which encourages rail industry staff to support Samaritans in many ways from becoming a listening volunteer to a Brew Monday virtual cuppa and fundraising activities, told the Rail and Rod Pod: “It is an opportunity for rail staff to volunteer in a whole set of different ways. Volunteering can be really very helpful. In recent times [it] is important to look after each other. It is so important to help.”

Jason Alexandre added that, as part of the 10 year partnership with the rail industry, more than 22,000 rail industry workers have been trained by Samaritans in managing suicidal contact and trauma support. He said Covid-19  has provided new opportunities: “Covid  has changed how we have done that, often it would be face to face but with it now being delivered virtually, it offers a number of new opportunities for those who wouldn’t have been able to attend before. If you’re part of the rail industry and interested in the training please email”

Links to listen 

Whatever you’re going through, Samaritans volunteers are available to listen without judgement, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or you can email and visit   

For more information on Samaritans' Brew Monday, visit and why not make a donation while you’re there, you could help save a life.