Shush & Listen, SW London Samaritans Would Like A Word

Suicide prevention charity challenges us to become better listeners

This July, Putney Samaritans (who cover South West London) is asking people to SHUSH! and listen.

As part of its month-long annual awareness-raising campaign, Talk to Us, Samaritans is on a mission to improve the UK listening skills with SHUSH! listening tips that it claims are ‘relationship transforming’.

Samaritans Listening Tips or S-H-U-S-H:

Show you care: focus just on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone
Have patience: it may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up
Use open questions: that need more than a yes/no answer, and follow up e.g. ‘Tell me more’
Say it back: to check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution
Have courage: don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to leave silence

Every six seconds, someone in the UK and Ireland contacts Samaritans, and every 90 minutes in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, someone takes their own life. Good listening is hard but Samaritans believes it essential in bringing down the number of suicides.

Shona Synnott, Branch Director at Putney Samaritans, said:
“We listen. That’s what we’re here to do when people contact us, and sometimes it can be really challenging. But you don’t have to be a Samaritan to be a good listener. We live in a culture where people love to give advice, love to give opinions and quite frankly love the sound of our own voices. But this year we’re asking people all over the country to SHUSH! and listen better to each other. Sixty years of Samaritans’ expertise has taught us that just listening is the greatest gift you can give to somebody, and that it can save lives.”

Samaritans’ aim is to bring down the high numbers of suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. It wants to encourage people to ask for help early if they are struggling, rather than waiting until they reach a crisis.

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland said:
“Being listened to gives you a voice, and the courage to say what’s really on your mind. Saying your problems out loud is therapeutic in itself and being listened to has the power to make you feel understood, and that you matter. We can all be better listeners. So many family, work, relationship and even mental health issues are made worse when a person feels they aren’t being listened to. Which is why we’re saying, ‘Shush and listen!’

“Most conversations today are just two people waiting to speak, not two people really listening. It’s vitally important for our children and young people’s wellbeing that they are listened to, and learn the value of listening, but it applies to every age too. We listen all the time, and as Samaritans we know how powerful that can be. So, I’m urging everyone to take up Samaritans’ challenge throughout our Talk To Us campaign this July, and become a better listener by putting into practice our Listening Tips. Go to our website, read them and share them – challenge each other to use them. We can all be braver and do more to give each other the space to talk. And by becoming better listeners, together we will save lives.”

If you are interested in volunteering as a Samaritans, Putney branch is holds a monthly information event where you can find out more. Events are held at the branch at 14 Princeton Court, 53-55 Felsham Road, Putney SW15 1AZ. There's no need to book, just come along if you're interested in volunteering with us. Information events last about 2 hours.

Our next information events:
• Monday 18 July at 7.30pm (arrive 7.15pm for refreshments)
• Thursday 11 August at 7.30pm (arrive 7.15pm for refreshments)

July 8, 2016

Related links

Find out more about volunteering for Samaritans by calling 08705 627282 or emailing for more information.