Volunteer listener with Bedford Samaritans is set to tackle his first ever London Marathon
Larry Smith is raising money for the Samaritans
A volunteer at Bedford Samaritans is set to tackle his first ever London Marathon on Sunday.
Keen runner Larry Smith, who has been a listening volunteer with Bedford Samaritans for four years, says training has been going well, despite some setbacks due to injury and illness.
He also took part in the 20 mile run in the recent Bedford Running Festival
He said: "The last couple of years has been tough for lots of charities to fundraise, at Bedford Samaritans we’ve been hit by not being able to gain donations from the various community fundraising events we would normally do so I wanted to do what I could to help support my local branch as it’s such a good cause.
"Initially I started volunteering because I wanted to do something that made a difference as I did not feel fulfilled in my work life.
"I have continued to volunteer with the team because I have seen first hand how much difference the Listening Service makes to our callers and also personally for the strong sense of community that exists within the Bedford branch and the wider Samaritans teams nationally.
"I am so glad that I decided to take up running and volunteering for Samaritans. They have both allowed me to grow into a more balanced person and to meet other like-minded people that share common interests.”
Bedford Samaritans has had to stop or postpone most of its planned in-person fundraising events due to the Covid pandemic.
Larry also urged other people to consider volunteering for the Samaritans, which answers a call for help every seven seconds.
He said: "We get some callers who are in such dark places that they consider ending their lives. To be with them during that moment by giving them space to explore how they feel is an honour."
"The training to become a Samaritan has made me a better listener and more empathetic in all areas of my life.
"I have met some wonderful volunteers during my four years at Bedford Samaritans.
"Although we have a waiting list of people keen to join our team, it’s brilliant to see new volunteers going through the various stages of their training to become a Listening Volunteer, so I would always encourage anyone who’s interested to apply!”
He also encouraged anyone who is facing a difficult period in their lives to get in touch with the Samaritans.
He said: "Most people face a difficult time at some point in their lives and encounter emotional distress. In some cases, by vocalising in a safe conversation this can be prevented from developing into a worse situation by talking things through with Listening volunteers.
"All our volunteers are warm and empathetic without being judgemental about the caller’s situation they find themselves in. This can be difficult to find in normal life sometimes and why speaking to Samaritans can be so important for our callers.”
Bedford Samaritans has around 130 listening volunteers and 12 support volunteers, and is part of a network of 201 branches throughout the country.
Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. You can also email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org.