Exeter St Davids Station Samaritans volunteers

Festive boost as Samaritans receive £77,000 grant from Great Western Railway

Samaritans has received a £77,000 grant from Great Western Railway to support the charity’s life-saving work and mission to reduce the number of people who die by suicide and be there for anyone who is struggling, particularly over the festive period.

The charity will use the funding to recruit new volunteers and deliver events and activities in the local communities near 23 Samaritans branches* across the GWR network, from London to Plymouth, Swansea, Hereford and numerous towns in between, to support the wellbeing of residents.

The funding comes at a crucial time, helping to ensure that Samaritans volunteers are on hand to provide emotional support throughout the festive season. 13,000 listening volunteers at Samaritans branches across the UK and Ireland are expected to answer calls for help from people feeling overwhelmed this winter. Last year, Samaritans volunteers responded to 244,254 calls in the UK and Ireland over the festive period.

Samaritans successfully applied for a grant from the train operator’s Community Fund, which was launched in May to support local communities and address areas of social need.

As part of GWR’s National Rail Contract with the Department for Transport, the train operator is committed to supporting schools, colleges, councils, community and other not-for-profit organisations by aiding a number of initiatives.

Samaritans’ activities will continue into next year, with talks at community groups, businesses, and local events, giving people useful tips on how to support a family member, friend or colleague who may be struggling and how to even help a stranger who might need help.

Olivia Cayley, Head of Rail at Samaritans said:

“We’re so grateful to GWR for supporting Samaritans branches across the route with this generous grant for the second year running. We know how valuable the funding was last year in helping the branches to deliver over 150 community events providing much needed emotional support. So, we’re so pleased that they’ll be able to continue their life-saving work again this year and continue to grow their volunteer base.

“We know the last few years including the pandemic and current economic uncertainty has had a huge impact on the nation’s mental wellbeing, and that can be even harder at this time of year, so it’s vital that the branches are on hand to boost wellbeing in their local communities and be there for those who need a listening ear.

“Our volunteers are available 24/7, free of charge, for anyone who is struggling to cope – call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.”

GWR Business Development Director, Tom Pierpoint, said:

“We’re really pleased to support Samaritans with this funding, which will specifically help to raise awareness and recruit new volunteers. Samaritans has worked in partnership with the rail industry and the British Transport Police for more than 10 years, carrying out vital work to reduce suicides on the railway and training staff to start conversations with someone who might need help to get them to safety.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans confidentially for free any time from any phone on 116 123, or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org. 

*Samaritans branch locations include: Barnstable, Bath, Bridgend, Bristol, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Newbury, Newport, Oxford, Plymouth, Reading, Slough, Swansea, Swindon, Taunton, Torquay, Truro, Weston-Super-Mare and Worcester

Contact Information

John Carter

Media and Communications Manager

Great Western Railway

0845 410 4444


Notes to editors

About GWR

First Greater Western Limited, trading as “Great Western Railway” (GWR), operates trains across the Great Western franchise area, which includes South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, across southern England and into London. GWR provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services, and before the covid-19 pandemic helped over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year. GWR was recently awarded an extension to its direct award franchise (called DA3), which shall run up to 31 March 2023, with an option to extend for a further year. 
Find out more here: https://www.gwr.com/about-us 

About Samaritans

  • 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. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org
  • Every 10 seconds, Samaritans responds to a call for help.
  • Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and around 20,000 volunteers that mean we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.
  • You can follow Samaritans on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  • Samaritans has worked in partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry since 2010 to reduce suicides on the network and support those affected by them. To date, Samaritans has trained over 26,000 rail and BTP staff in suicide prevention to be able to identify vulnerable people, talking to them and getting them to safety.