Work on suicide prevention in the region is getting a boost thanks to customers of The Cumberland.
The Carlisle based building society, which is committed to Kinder Banking, will be donating £19,916 to Samaritans.
The money will allow the charity’s volunteers to respond to 4,000 calls from people struggling to cope.
“We are delighted that The Cumberland has chosen to donate an amazing £20,000 to Samaritans,” said Harriet Foster, the charity’s corporate partnerships executive.
Samaritans, which works for suicide awareness and prevention, runs a free helpline 24 hours a day 365 days a year and responds to a call for help every 10 seconds.
“Samaritans is needed more now than ever,” said Harriet. “We continue to live through uncertain times and it’s vital that people can reach us quickly and in ways that feel most comfortable to them, any time of the day or night.
“It will have a devastating impact on the mental health of those people who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“It costs £5 to fund a call for help to Samaritans. The Cumberland’s incredible contribution of £20,000 will enable our volunteers to respond to 4,000 calls.
“Your support means we can continue to be there for anyone struggling to cope. Thank you, we are so grateful. Together we can make change that saves lives.”
Every year The Cumberland, which as a mutual is owned by its savers and borrowers, runs a Pledge for Votes scheme at its Annual General Meeting. This year £2 for every vote cast by customers at the AGM in July went to Samaritans.
The donation is part of The Cumberland’s ongoing drive supporting mental health within the business, its customers and across local communities.
Lisa Birdsall, operations team leader at The Cumberland, is one of the building society’s mental health and wellbeing champions.
She said: “I was so pleased and proud when I saw the money was going to Samaritans this year. I lost my brother to suicide in 2015 and I know how crucial this work is.
“Making a difference where mental health is concerned is really at the forefront in The Cumberland, from top to bottom.”
Lisa runs suicide awareness and prevention sessions at The Cumberland including for colleagues working in the customer care and arrears departments.
She also volunteers for the charity Every Life Matters including on the Suicide Safer Community Action Group.
“Right now, we are probably in one of the most difficult times, coming off the back of covid and now with a massive cost of living crisis,” said Lisa.
“Mental health has taken a dive in the last few years. Raising awareness, teaching people how to spot the signs and where to turn for help can be lifesaving. We want to smash the stigma and open these conversations up.”
To mark The Cumberland’s donation, Lisa and colleague Tom Little highlighted the Samaritans’ current campaign which saw thousands of posters and adverts up in stations raising awareness of its 24-hour listening service, which offers emotional support to anyone who needs someone.
Samaritans has 22,000 volunteers across the UK and Ireland and in 2021 alone, they spent over one million hours answering calls for help.
The charity not only helps those in mental health crisis but works to prevent crises happening, by teaching people ways to cope and the skills to be there for others.
Last year The Cumberland donated more than £19,000 to mental health charity Mind, through its Pledge for Votes scheme.