Prison Listener Scheme
Prisoners are six times more likely to take their lives than an average person in the UK.
Since 1990 Samaritans has been working with local prisons to give vulnerable prisoners access to our support any time of the day or night.
The suicide risk in prison is extremely high and our work plays a crucial role in reducing suicide, self-harm and distress amongst inmates.
The Listener Scheme is a peer support scheme whereby selected prisoners are trained and supported by Samaritans, using our same guidelines, to listen in complete confidence to their fellow prisoners in times of despair.
The role of Listeners is incredibly difficult; for 24 hours a day they live alongside all those they support, many of whom actively self-harm or have severe mental illnesses.
Our work is about empowering and enabling prisoners to support others. For Samaritans it can be a real joy seeing people, often with no self-esteem, confidence or skills in emotional support, become Listeners with a great sense of pride in what they do. It can make a huge difference to their lives both in and out of prison.
“Being a Listener means everything to me and I get so much joy when a caller approaches me and says thank you.”
The first Listener scheme started in HMP Swansea in 1991; more information about the historical background to the scheme can be found on our national Samaritans website.
Nearly every prison in England, Scotland and Wales now has a Listener scheme with well over 1,200 active Listeners across the estate. There is an increasing number of Listener schemes in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
For more information about our work in prisons, contact Rosie Ellis, Outreach Volunteering Coordinator on 020 7439 1406 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Source: Ministry of Justice website and the Samaritans Information Resource Pack (Samaritans 2010)