April 2, 2014

Samaritans launch new number SAMARITANS Ireland has launched a new struggling to cope.

The number (116 123) will make it possible for people to access the service round the clock, every single day of the year, free of charge.

The new free to call number has been made possible by a partnership between Samaritans and the telecommunications industry.

The six largest telecoms providers – BT Ireland, eircom Group, 02, Three, UPC and Vodafone Ireland – have committed to a two- year funding programme for the number.

Catherine Brogan, executive director of Samaritans Ireland, described it as a really positive step to see the industry coming together to help vulnerable people in this way.

"We hope that knowing the call is free of charge will encourage more people who need us to contact Samaritans, in particular some of the most vulnerable groups in society," said Ms Brogan.

"eircom has always generously supported Samaritans' lo-call helpline. The fact that the five other largest telecoms providers have joined with eircom to support our new free to call number is groundbreaking." In 2007, the European Commission decided to reserve numbers beginning with 116 for services of social value that would be common across all EU member states. The number 116 123 has been given for all 24- hour emotional support helplines. ComReg awarded Samaritans the 116 123 number as it is the only organisation in Ireland already meeting and exceeding all of the minimum standards for these services.

Speaking at the launch of the free to call number, Torlach Denihan, Director of Ibec'sTelecommunications and Internet Federation(TIE), said the industry was very pleased toassist Samaritans in its vital work.

"There is a very unique relationshipbetween Samaritans and our sector and thisfree to call number for people who arepartnership is a further development thatrecognises this decades old link," said MrDenihan. "It is also a good example ofcorporate social responsibility.

Minister for Communications, Energy andNatural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, alsowelcomed the new number.

"The partnership between Samaritans andthe telecommunications industry is a greatexample of collaboration between thevoluntary and commercial sectors andGovernment," said Minister Rabbitte.

"The financial support of the industrydemonstrates their commitment to thisservice.

The assistance of the industry in ensuringthat the cost of calls is free of charge to theend user and the dedication of the 2,000Samaritans' volunteers across the countrymeans that support is available to anyonewho needs it." Minister of State with responsibility forMental Health, Kathleen Lynch, said: "In thisday and age we all know someone who isfinding it difficult to cope and we know thatit's important that people speak about theissues that are getting them down.

"The fact that the Samaritans answer over380,000 calls per year is indicative of theimportance of this service." Ms Lynch added: "Few services operatearound the clock like Samaritans, whichmakes it vital in the area of suicideprevention."Publication: Northside People EastDate: Wednesday, April 02, 2014Page: 31Extract: 2 of 2Circulation: 54.000Author:Headline: Samaritans launch new number • Torlach Denihan, IBEC; Kathleen Lynch Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health; Catherine Brogan, Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland; Emer Costelloe MEP; and Majella Canty, Samaritans Cork, pictured at the Samaritans' launch of a new free call number for those struggling to cope.