Listener Scheme - Samaritans Awareness Day

Sunday 24 July marks #SamaritansAwarenessDay. As part of their ‘Talk to Us’ campaign, we would like to highlight our ‘Listener scheme’, a peer support scheme within our establishments that is supported by Samaritans’ volunteers.

The first ‘Listener scheme’ in Scotland was launched in HMP Edinburgh in 1994. The scheme aims to reduce instances of suicide and self-harm for those in our care.

The Samaritans work with prison staff to select and train people in prison who have shown an interest in becoming a ‘Listener’. Listeners provide confidential emotional support to their peers who are struggling to cope or feeling suicidal. Those selected receive intensive training, which is based on the training that Samaritans volunteers undertake, but adapted for the prison setting. This role is entirely voluntary.

By giving people in custody a safe place to talk, by listening to what they have to say, and by simply giving them the space they need, Listeners can help those in need find a way forward. Many individuals in our care find it helpful to talk to someone who is also living in the environment, and are therefore well placed to understand the challenges it can bring. The Listeners use their own personal experiences to assist anyone who is struggling and provide a link between prisoner and staff if required.

In order to provide support for the Listeners, Samaritans volunteers attend establishments regularly for meetings to provide support and ensure they are coping with the demands of the role.

We are very grateful to the Samaritans for collaborating with us on such an important initiative. They are available day or night, 365 days a year. In times of need, you can call them for free on 116 123, email them at, or visit to find your nearest branch. Individuals in our care are also able to call the Samaritans Freephone number at any time.

May be an image of one or more people and text that says 'You can talk to US about anything that's troubling you We're here to listen 24/7 SAMARITANS Call free on 116 123 or email Talk to US registered charity we'll listen'