Samaritans Awareness Day, 24/7

Before I moved to Devon and opened Home Instead with my husband, Mark, I spent many years as a Volunteer Listener with Samaritans. This is why Samaritans Awareness Day on 24 July (24/7) is important to me, as it’s the day when this unique charity seeks to raise awareness for the important work it carries out.

Every 10 seconds someone calls Samaritans. Each caller is then supported by a thoroughly trained listener for as long as they need that support. Samaritans is available 24/7 to assist anyone who is struggling to cope and in need of a non-judgemental space to talk. For many people, Samaritans have literally saved their life. Having a safe place to talk is a refuge and a sanctuary – Samaritans see every life as important and that every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. Mental health issues, financial worries, relationship concerns, and societal pressures abound. Samaritans are expertly trained to listen, to hear and to be genuinely open and present for each caller, whatever their situation.

As the owner of a growing and thriving business, it soon became apparent that support for our cherished team had to be a priority. A business is the sum of its people; and those people go through all sorts of personal and professional chapters. It is important for us to support and nurture each of our staff, to hear and understand their unique and varying needs – but it can’t be a ‘one size fits all’ offering, it must ebb and flow, remaining relevant and current.

Caring for our staff at Home Instead takes a unique guise and permeates everything we do; it sets the culture. We firmly believe in Richard Branson’s words “Clients do not come first, Employees come first. If you take care of your Employees, they will take care of the Clients.”  To us it’s the right thing to do, and it’s proven itself time and time again.

Whilst we may not be able to ‘fix’ everyone’s issues, our staff comment “I’ve worked in many places before, but I’ve never found anywhere as caring and supportive as Home Instead” and “I couldn’t believe the support I got when I had my problems, it was amazing”.  Comments such as these make our hearts sing, endorse what we set out to achieve and keep us striving to offer more.

We continuously add to the wide programme of support and wellbeing initiatives which have been key for employee health, wellbeing, and support over 11 years. Each employee has access to a confidential, free Employee Assistance Programme providing support and advice on a range of topics from finance, housing, nutrition, mental health, relationships, as well as in person and virtual counselling services.

The Company has invested heavily in Mental Health First Aid and now has a professionally trained team to provide correct and responsive support to staff.  This not only ensures their own mental health is protected - it allows them the surety that they are providing optimal assistance to staff who may need support.

Recognising that social activity outside of work is important for mental health and wellbeing, we ensure a wide range of outreach activities are available for staff and suggest the inclusion of family or friends. Our recent chartered cruises along the coast were very popular as are our monthly Book Club meetings, our Walking Group, and social events such as casual beach picnics, bowling evenings, bingo and pub nights. Most recently we have implemented menopause information and support sessions for all employees with regular ‘meet-ups’ which have had instant, tangible benefit for many.

Professional development through training and learning builds confidence and self-esteem. To that aim, we offer an extensive, nurturing programme of enrichment via Company sponsored RQF’s (NVQs). Whilst personal development and the pursuit of professional qualifications may be a goal for many staff, studying can represent a challenge for anxious learners or those who have been out of a learning environment for a while.  For those who feel the benefit of learning and studying alongside peers and away from distractions at home, we offer regular drop-in sessions in the comfort of our Learning & Development Centre.

Regular, meaningful support, training and recognition is underpinned by our extensive schedule of thorough, professional training and refresher training with frequent structured one-to-one meetings to build confidence and surety. Of huge importance in our business is recognition of good or outstanding work, each time an employee triumphs they are rewarded with ‘Praiseworthy’ certificates sent directly to their home endorsed by the Company Directors. One employee said she had never been awarded a certificate in her life apart from the ones received from Home Instead.

It starts with the individual and listening to really hear where they are and what will encourage, engage and enrich staff lives as a whole. 

So, as you can see, in support of our staff’s wellbeing there is far more than meets the eye at Home Instead. The door is always propped open, but we recognise that for some it is difficult to knock – therefore we must listen for the footsteps.

If you would appreciate the kind support of a listening ear, please don’t hesitate. Contact the Samaritans…

- You can call them for free, day or night on: 116 123
- You can send an email to: [email protected]
- You could write a letter, which you can simply address to: Freepost SAMARITANS LETTERS
- You can exercise some gentle, self-help via their app, which you can download HERE.