Cyprus Mail

Samaritans expand centre into Limassol

By Bejay Browne

CYPRUS Samaritans are opening a new all-in-one centre in Limassol to deal with a demand for their confidential services that has increased by around 200 per cent in the last year.

The Paphos-based volunteer organisation which offers an island wide free helpline number opened a listening centre in Limassol last year. Their new premises – which will be up and running from December – will incorporate a listening centre and a new charity shop.

The volunteer organisation already has two other shops in Paphos.

“Our new facility in Limassol will enable us to have everything in one place. On the ground floor, we will have our first Limassol charity shop which will sell everything from furniture, to clothes books and bric-a-brac,” said director of the Cyprus Samaritans, Sally Unsworth.

The Samaritans depend on their charity shops to fund their activities, including the Freephone service, and they welcome donations and shop volunteers.

“We will open the listening centre on December 1 and we hope to be able to open the shop as soon as we can. We also need more volunteers to come and help us,” she said.

The Cyprus Samaritans is a charity which aims to provide confidential emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of anxiety, distress, despair or suicide.

The Cyprus Samaritans was established in 1997 and is affiliated to the International Network of Befrienders Worldwide which operates in close to 40 countries. The Cyprus organisation is based on the same principles as that of the UK Samaritans.

“We have managed to dispel many of the misconceptions here in Cyprus about what we do, through extensive advertising campaigns over the last two years,” Unsworth said.

The new centre in Limassol will train volunteer ‘listeners’ from Nicosia, Larnaca and Limassol, who will no longer have to travel to Paphos.

To become a volunteer listener, a four-day study course must be completed, which is then followed up by six months with a mentor. After that, a volunteer must have at least 18 months as a listener – following the initial training course – and six months with a mentor, before they can be considered as a leader.

Unsworth said there had been a huge increase – around 200 per cent – in the number of people seeking their services. The increase is partly a result of media exposure, but largely because of the economic climate.

“Many people are suffering because of the economic situation in Cyprus, many have lost their jobs and it will be particularly difficult for some this Christmas.”

“We can’t give advice, but we can give support, listen in a non-judgemental way and put people in touch with the relevant organisations or agencies, where appropriate,” she said.

“Everyone has baggage in this world and most people just need someone to talk to who will listen to their problems. Everything is confidential, for many this is enough for them to reach their own conclusions and it’s a relief to talk.”

The Samaritans can be contacted – in confidence – via email and they also have a PO Box address for those who prefer to write a letter. Their face to face service is available by appointment. The organisation has also expanded into social media – they now have a Facebook page – in order to reach more people.

The new centre is located at 43 Aeios Phyloxea Street in Limassol and will open on 1 December. Once enough volunteers are available, the shop will be open usual opening hours.

The Freephone confidential helpline service is available from 4pm until midnight.


To contact the Samaritans: Call Freephone 8000 7773 4pm – midnight seven days a week. E-mail: [email protected], or write to PO Box 64420, 8074 Paphos. Volunteers – Sally Unsworth 99312662 or Emma Yianni 99182230

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