KINGSTON WI: Kingston WI meeting May 4 with a talk by Fiona Harrison on the Samaritans.We met at the village school as the parish hall was being used as a polling station. The treasurer told us that our finances are good and the membership had risen to 48 with the aim to reach 50. A walk has been arranged for May 24, meet at 9.30am at the end of The Street. Tap dancing on May 25 at 7.30pm, and Pilates every Tuesday 2pm to 3pm, both at the Parish Hall. Craft club is at the pavilion every Friday 2pm to 4pm but not May 26, and choir is at Peggy’s house every Friday at 4.30pm. Planning for the village fete on July 1st began with a board for offers of cakes and tea making on the day. A vote was taken for two resolutions to go forward to the AGM at Liverpool in June. Janice and Beryl gave a report of the Federation AGM at Eastbourne on March 29 where our ‘very stunning’ Bee Basket ‘went like a flash’. There was a talk by Ann Stamper about the history of Sussex Federations and another by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex giving a brief history of the office of High Sherriff. He spoke of citizenship ceremonies and told of an Iraqi Kurd who was a sole survivor of a gas attack and who was thankful to be in the UK. We also heard of a visit to Chailey Heritage by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
The group meeting due to be hosted by Kingston WI on May 19 has been cancelled as too few replied to our invitations.
Our speaker Fiona Harrison has been a Samaritan’s volunteer for seven years. There are 20,000 volunteers taking 5.4 million calls; one every six second. It costs £160 a day to keep a branch open, some opening 24/7. In 2015 there were 6188 suicides in the UK, suicide is the biggest killer of men. Training is long and thorough, then a six month probation period and mandatory ongoing training. Samaritans was founded in 1953 by Chad Varah, a vicar, after he took the funeral of a fourteen year old girl who, although menstruating, thought she was dying. The Samaritans are confidential, non-judgemental and don’t give advice, they listen. There is a drop-in face-to-face- service too. Subjects discussed include drugs, loneliness, health, family, abuse, work place. Calls can be from anywhere and will be diverted to a free listener, anywhere. Due to the stressful calls, volunteers often need help themselves. The Samaritans go into schools and talk of their work and have set up listeners’ services in prisons which are always face-to-face and where listeners are supported every 2 weeks. 80 percent of prisoners have mental health issues and as the listeners know what it is like, can be very empathetic. Our next meeting is on June 1, Colour and Style, know what suits you. All are welcome. (Helen Dudley).
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