Best-selling crime writer Peter James has become patron of Brighton, Hove and District branch of Samaritans, the charity that provides 24-hour emotional support to people experiencing feelings of distress and despair.
Brighton-based Peter said: “Brighton & Hove has one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.
“I have long admired the work Samaritans do to help people going through difficult times.
“It is striking that an act as simple as being there to listen to people whose lives feel bleak and hopeless can make a huge difference.
It’s a privilege to become patron of Samaritans’ locally and I’m looking forward to doing my bit to help the branch continue to deliver its vital services.”
Chairman of Brighton, Hove and district Samaritans Marcus Burgess said: “We are delighted that Peter James has agreed to become our patron.
“Ours is an organisation that is run entirely by volunteers and it is a great boost to know that what we do is recognised and supported by someone as eminent as Peter, who has such strong local connections.”
The stage play of Peter’s novella, The Perfect Murder, will be showing at The Theatre Royal Brighton for one week from January 27.
Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans was set up in 1968 and covers a large part of Sussex, from Shoreham in the west to Newhaven and Lewes in the east and Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill in the north.
In 2012, the branch answered more than 42,000 phone calls, replied to 1,800 emails, received 150 visits for face-to-face support and sent 10,500 text messages of emotional support.
The branch also supported Samaritan trained listeners in Lewes Prison, who were asked for help over 1,190 times by fellow prisoners.
It costs about £55,000 a year to run Brighton, Hove and District Samaritans, every penny of which is raised locally through the branch’s shop in George Street, Hove, and through the fund-raising efforts of volunteers.