Samaritans poised to take calls as new survey reveals extent of festive loneliness and isolation

Samaritans has released new figures showing the extent of loneliness and isolation people feel over the festive period, with nearly a quarter (23.6%) believing problems feel worse at Christmas and 1 in 6 (17.3%) saying it’s the loneliest time of year.

The survey, of all ages, also reveals that 1 in 15 (6.8%) have often spent Christmas alone, and 1 in 25 (3.8%) of those questioned have said they are with friends and family, but really spent it alone.

Samaritans responded to nearly 200,000 calls for help over the festive period last year, and are seeing an increasing demand for their services, responding to more than 5.3 million calls for help overall in 2014 (the latest full year for which figures are available).

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland says, “For many the holiday period can be a thoroughly enjoyable time but, sadly, as our research shows, for a startling amount of people this is not always the case.  This time of year can bring up painful memories, or worsen difficult feelings often related to family or relationship issues, financial or health worries, to name just a few.  The pressure to be having a good time or comparing your life with someone else’s can be too much. Even with friends and family around you, that sense of being alone with difficult thoughts or feelings, can make it seem as if you have no one to turn to.” 

“The important thing to remember is that no one needs to feel alone this Christmas. Samaritans volunteers are there to listen round the clock, every day of the year.  We don’t judge and we don’t share what we’re told, we’re simply there to listen, provide emotional support and help people find a way through whatever’s getting to them.”

Dad of three, Bob Howe, from Leeds in Yorkshire is one of Samaritans’ 21,000 volunteers. He makes sure he’s there to listen over the festive period and has taken hundreds of calls from people finding Christmas or New Year an ordeal.

“This is my fifteenth year as a Samaritans volunteer. I’m happy to give up my time as I know that there are a lot of people who, more than ever, need someone to turn to.  Support services often shut down at this time of year, or family and friends may be far away, leaving some people feeling more isolated than usual.  Knowing I can provide vital support to people who might be having a difficult time is the best gift I can think of giving.”

*Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place to talk for anyone who is struggling to cope, whoever you are and whatever life has done to you. Please call 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or email jo@samaritans.org, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.*