Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans
We befriend people who visit us or contact us through phone, mail or letters. Befriending is active empathetic, non-judgemental listening. We accept the person as he is and never attempt to question him or criticise him. All the information shared is strictly confidential and we do not share it even with our fellow volunteers. Through empathetic listening, we help people to arrange their thoughts and arrive at a correct perception of their situation. Even though befriending do not aim at problem-solving, venting out of emotions and correct assessment of their situations help people to arrive at a possible solution to the situation.
Befriending was developed by Chad Varah, an Anglican Priest in the 1950’s. That was a period when suicide rates were high in London. Along with his pastoral duties, he found time to help people who were emotionally disturbed and started an organisation called Samaritans to counsel such people. During this work, he observed that simple empathetic listening can relieve the potentially suicidal person equally or even better than a formal counselling session. Chad Varah expanded the Samaritans on the basis of this concept which is the current befrienders worldwide. At present Befrienders Worldwide has 126 member countries. All befriending follow the “Charter ‘of Befriending.
  1. The primary purpose of the centres is to give emotional support to people when they are suicidal.
  2. The volunteers who serve the centres also seek to alleviate misery, loneliness, despair and depression by listening to those who feel that they cannot turn to anyone who would understand and accept them.
  3. Contact with a centre does not limit individual freedom. Which is further perfected by the right to remain anonymous.
  4. The fact that someone has been in contact with the centre(whether by telephone, letter, visit or any other means ) is confidential, so too is everything revealed by or about the person.
  5. The centres are non-political and non-sectarian, and the volunteers do not seek to impose their own convictions on anyone.
  6. Volunteers are selected, trained, guided and supported by other experienced volunteers.
  7. Centres may on certain occasions request the advice of professional consultants.
  8. Inappropriate circumstances individuals may be invited to consider seeking professional help in addition to the support offered by the centre.