A large part of tonight’s training at Samaritans was about the importance of confidentiality. At one point, I realised, I may have made a mistake. In our training, we were given a piece of advice that I’ve already blown, which went along the lines of “With regards to being a Samaritan, you should consider being selective, about who you tell.” This advice was backed up with two very good reasons..
1./ If someone who knows me knows I am a Samaritan, and there is a chance that if they call, it may come through to me, it may put them off calling the service.
2./ If someone who knows me knows I am a Samaritan, they may turn to me, personally, instead of the Samaritan’s network for help.
Part of me thought – is my best option to publicly bow out now? Then I thought about it, and thought – no..(ish) but I do need to address the above..
I’m going to address both here and now – I’ve already ‘gone public’ with the whole me training to be a Samaritans thing, so I can’t undo that bit.. So here goes.. Regarding the first point – I’ve taken a bit of advice on that. If you do want to phone up the service and worry that you’ll get through to me – phone anyway. If you do get through to me, you wouldn’t have to speak to me. (Technically, you’d be able to dial another number in another town as well). The second point – sure, if you’re a friend and you need to talk – I’d probably be all ears – as a friend. However, having a conversation with a friend is different to having a conversation with a Samaritan.
I also feel it very important to point out that everything discussed on a call with The Samaritans is in the strictest of confidence – I mean uber confidence. I get this now and totally sign up to it. A callers trust in this fact is of the utmost importance. As a Samaritan, I would not even discuss the nature of a call with anyone outside of Samaritans. Not even abstractly, or by changing names so the story could be re-told – nothing to do with a call would be discussed with even my nearest and dearest. This is the unfaltering policy of every Samaritan. Unwavering confidentially to promote unwavering trust.
I do feel though, that I can carry on talking about the training program – tonight (Sit1.1), was fascinating. As well as the lesson on confidentiality, we started exploring some of the thought processes involved and how responses might be structured. We also learned a bunch of stuff about the wider Samaritans network. I wasn’t aware for instance, that The Samaritans are so active in prisons and train prisoners themselves to be Samaritans, or that they offer a postal correspondence service which is particularly popular amongst the deaf. We learned about how they rock up at music festivals and offer support to people there. I think I’d quite like that – but not getting ‘involved’ at a music festival could be tricky for me.
The other confidence I’m going to keep is the relationship and knowledge I learn about fellow Sams – I will say though that everyone I’ve met so far has been a genuine, nice person. There’s a good spirit and warmth amongst the group, the collective, the individuals.. that’s quite unique.
The most surprising bit about the whole evening though, was finding out that the founder of The Samaritans – Dr. Chad Varah is also the guy who was largely responsible for inventing the Eagle Comic’s Dan Dare. A super hero who invents super heroes. Top stuff.