The Samaritans helping our local community

Dessie Tuck

September is our chosen month to dedicate to philanthropy. We wanted to find out how our colleagues are involved with local charities in the South West? How their favourite marketing campaign is delivered by their chosen charity? Most importantly, what would be the dream marketing campaign they would run for the charity.

We start by speaking to one of our Account Managers, Katie Dryden, whose chosen charity is The Samaritans Bath & District. Following the loss of friends to suicide and their involvement in her community, she talks about how the charity fits with her personal experiences.

Q: Can you tell me more about your chosen charity, Katie?

A: Yes, sure. The Samaritans are a nationwide charity, but Bath & District are the local group. They support people, who are basically having troubles and are considering suicide and they provide a point of contact, I suppose.

So, they provide a listening service, but also provide other support, fund raise, and they are basically there if you need someone to talk to. It was something, I guess, a charity that I felt a synergy with.

I have lost two people to suicide, that’s why I chose this charity. They do an invaluable job really.

“They make themselves available and they just go and have a chat with people at such events.”

Q: What marketing/fundraising do they currently do?

A: They have a mix of activities, obviously as a national charity they have national led initiatives, so they do things like National Samaritan Walks. They did that recently, where people will do a 40 mile walk around a particular location and it fund raises for certain branch.

They do also smaller initiatives where they raise awareness around the National Volunteer Week where they encourage people to volunteer to join and they go to local sporting events to fund raise and basically be a friendly face. If your team have lost and you want someone to talk to, (because people take sport really seriously), then someone is there, you are not alone. They also go to Glastonbury and different festivals. Quite often in the festival season, people who are attending have sat their exams and they don’t know what their results are going to be and are a bit worried, so just having that support there helps.

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Q: What has been your favourite marketing campaign completed by your chosen charity?

A: They have done a campaign called Blue Monday, which is an initiative that they run on the third Monday in January (known as Blue Monday). It’s meant to be the most depressing day of the year, where you have long, cold, dark nights, Christmas is done, you have massive credit card bills and your New Years resolutions are already broken, you have no holiday coming soon, etc.

Basically, volunteers went to Bath and Chippenham railway stations and they were handing out tea bags with a little guide saying, ‘have a chat with a friend’. The information on the leaflets was listening tips on how to talk to each other and how to listen. Maybe to a colleague who’s struggling, or just anyone really. This includes trying to encourage commuters to talk to each other because commuters definitely don’t do that!

When you are commuting you are in your own little bubble and you don’t talk to anybody around you. So, this campaign was just highlighting the value of having a conversation with somebody and the importance of just listening when somebody talks, allowing them to just unburden themselves, basically you don’t need any special skills to be human, I suppose. And this is all bundled up in the idea of sharing those experiences with people over a cup of tea. Basically, being friendly and trying to be helpful can actually reduce the number of suicides. One simple action can make all the difference for somebody.

Q: If you could run a marketing campaign for the Samaritans, what would it be?

A: I had a long, hard think about it, because there is quite a lot of stuff around mental health that could be done, but I figured that there is a big family population in this area, this is an area where people go to raise a family, I thought doing a campaign for children and youths, especially around the exam pressure and assessments.

We have several universities as well here, so a campaign that is split 11 to 18 years old and 18 to 25 years old, so you have kids at school and young adults at university. The campaign would basically help them to manage the pressures of being a teenager: social media trends, physical appearance, just navigating the teenage years, navigating the school pressure. And then at university, navigating life expectations, what happens if you don’t get the grades that you want, that sort of stuff, the kind of stuff that you might struggle with at this age and just giving them additional support and resilience.

Maybe some influencer marketing too where you’re identifying 2 groups of influencers for these 2 age groups and perhaps some sort of social campaign, support packs and advertising on relevant websites – maybe spotify etc.

“I was thinking about an app as well, for parents and for kids.”

For parents it could provide guidance on what to look for, to identify if your child is struggling and for kids it could be where to go if you want to talk to somebody, how to get help if you have been bullied or you are feeling under pressure. It could give kids help on what to do if you have lost someone, if you are a teenager or a young adult, who to speak to, how to deal with grief effectively. Because at that age it’s not normal to have to deal with these things. Maybe also look at going into schools and do some training (I know they already do that), you could do a proper county wide school training scheme. So, there is a Samaritans presence in school, somebody is a Samaritan trained to do that sort of stuff as a volunteer in the school. Make kids aware of mental health and that it is OK to talk about it.

Someone to give them a big hug!

Thank you very much, Katie, for lettings us interview you and for your views on the Samaritans and the local branch here, acknowledging the excellent work they do.

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