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Monday, February 6, 2023

Wellbeing Minister Visits Samaritans Scotland’s West Highland Project in Fort William

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Samaritans’ West Highlands and Skye project is a new area of work, funded by the Scottish Government, which aims to reach people in rural communities, supporting them to feel more confident in reaching out and seeking help when needed. 

The Scottish Government Minister for Mental Wellbeing and Social Care, Kevin Stewart MSP, met Neil Mathers, the new Executive Director of Samaritans Scotland, and Samaritans Scotland staff working on the project at an event hosted by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce. 

During the visit to Fort William, Minister Kevin Stewart MSP was delighted to confirm the Scottish Government’s commitment to the project. 

The project from the leading suicide prevention charity focuses on the links between poor mental wellbeing, leading to suicide risk, and lone and isolated work in remote communities.

Samaritans will spend two years engaging with local communities across the West Highland area from Durness to Oban. 

They will reach out to employers and remote workers with positive messages of connection and highlighting support that already exists in the community, as well as the vital support Samaritans offer through their free helpline and listening services. 

Neil Mathers, Samaritans Scotland’s Executive Director, stated that finding new ways to raise awareness of available support in remote communities increases the opportunities for connection that can ultimately ensure fewer lives are lost to suicide. 

He said:

“This type of work is very new for us at Samaritans.

“Many people will know about our free 24/7 helpline, but some might not know about the work we do in communities.

“This project aims to build relationships in the area, growing a positive community of wellbeing support, so that if anyone should find themselves struggling or in need of support, they know where to go and feel confident and able to reach out.”  

The West Highlands and Skye project will bring Samaritans’ training expertise to local employers of lone and isolated workers, workers themselves and the communities supporting them. 

The project will also be carrying out research to ensure that the voices of those involved inform an evidence-based approach to service improvement.  

Laura Traynor, Samaritans Scotland’s West Highland Project Assistant, said:

“Living in a small community in the Highlands, I understand many of the difficulties people may face when feeling low and being unsure of how to access support.

“I’m proud to be part of this work, which will ensure local voices are key in shaping the services in our communities.” 

Anyone can contact Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123, even on a mobile without credit.

Or you can email jo@samaritans.org 

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