SHUSH! It’s time for us all to listen. Listening saves lives. It’s what we do as an organisation and it’s something everyone could do better.
That’s why nationally and in the North West Samaritans has been working with barbers and hairdressers during the past month – some of the best listeners in the business.
We have been trying to show how it’s possible for each and every one of us to build up our listening skills to help a friend, relative, family member or work colleague who may be going through a tough time.
Three times more people die by suicide than from road accidents.
Samaritans volunteers receive intensive training to become really good listeners, but this is a skill we can all learn and that was the message taken out across the region during ‘The Big Listen’ day last month.
Using the SHUSH listening tips, we want to make Greater Manchester and the whole of the UK better listeners and to emphasise the value of talking through problems if people are struggling.
There are 160,000 hairdressers and barbers in the UK, and they make up one per cent of the workforce.
It is estimated they each spend nearly 2,000 hours a year listening to their clients.
As hairdresser and Gogglebox star Stephen Webb told us: “Over time, you realise that the person sitting in front of you could be in real need of a chat.
“A massive part of my job is to simply listen and as a hairdresser, we take our role as listeners very seriously.
“You go through so many things with your clients: deaths, births and marriages, and you’re there for each other every step of the way.”
The better we all become at listening, the fewer people will feel they need to suffer in silence or become overwhelmed by their problems.
So here are the SHUSH tips for you to try out on a friend, relative or work colleague:
Show you care: focus just on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone.
Have patience: it may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up.
Use open questions: that need more than a yes or no answer and follow up by saying, for example: “Tell me more”.
Say it back: to check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution.
Have courage: don’t be put off by a negative response and don’t be afraid to leave silence.
For anyone who feels they can’t talk to someone they know, Samaritans is there in confidence, free to call at any time.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 50 and of men and women aged 20-34, with those from more deprived communities particularly vulnerable.
Every six seconds, someone in the UK and Ireland contacts Samaritans.
We believe that listening is crucial to helping people find their way through their problems, and want to encourage people to seek help early, rather than when they reach a crisis.
As well as responding to calls, emails, text and letters, our volunteers here in Greater Manchester and across the UK talk to people face to face.
They also offer emotional support everywhere from schools, workplaces, communities, festivals and events to prisons, hospitals, courts, custody suites, homeless shelters and food banks.
If you personally want to make a difference in 2017, why not think about donating some money or some of your time to Samaritans to help keep our life-saving services going?
Samaritans free helpline number is 116 123. Calls to this helpline number do not appear on phone bills.
You can also contact us on 0161 236 8000 for emotional support (local call charges apply).
Nationally and locally Samaritans is dependent on help and donations to continue the work we do.
To help us in our vital fundraising efforts we have also set up a Just Giving page.
We value all donations, no matter how big or small.
Every little helps and anyone who wants to give can now visit www. justgiving.com/ samaritansmanchestersalford/
Text Here24 and the amount you’d like to give using the number 70070 (for example Here24 £5).
To find out more about joining us as a volunteer or a Friend of Samaritans email manchester@ samaritans.org. Also follow us on Twitter @SamsManchester
Nasrin Fazal of Manchester and Salford Samaritans