Leeds Building Society is partnering with Samaritans with the aim of raising £250,000 to help the charity support even more people.
Leeds colleagues and a panel of its members will be given the chance to choose how the funds raised are spent by voting for one of two projects, to be announced later this year.
The first will see new technology introduced allowing volunteers to move more easily between phone, email, text and chat responses. The second will fund volunteer recruitment to help meet demand.
Richard Fearon, Leeds Building Society’s chief commercial officer, said: “As a building society we’re based on the premise of people helping people, which is exactly what Samaritans does 365 days of the year through its 20,000 volunteers taking calls.
“Listening is also an incredibly important part of how we choose to operate as a business, and this sits at the heart of what makes Samaritans such a special charity – they listen to those struggling to cope. We’re really proud to have chosen Samaritans for our first charity partnership.”
Contacts by text and email to Samaritans were up more than a quarter between 2016 and 2017, from around 683,000 to 868,000. A web chat option to be piloted later this year seeks to provide another alternative to phoning for people needing emotional support.
Samaritans, chief executive, Ruth Sutherland said: “The money raised by Leeds Building Society will be a massive boost.
“It’s vital that anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed can access us quickly and easily in whatever way they feel most comfortable with.
“That means staying ahead of the curve in terms of new technology and attracting new volunteers. Both come at a huge cost to us as a charity.”
Bob Howe, who has volunteered for Samaritans’ Leeds branch for17 years, said: “From the days of one man and a phone, when our founder Chad Varah took our first phone call in 1953, Samaritans has had an eye on the future.
“65 years on, this partnership will see us continuing to evolve to meet the needs of our callers, whenever and however they choose to contact us.”
To donate to the charity, visit: https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/donate-online.