A CHARITY which has spent six decades helping some of Wearside’s most desperate people is marking its birthday.
A phonebox in St Thomas Street in Sunderland has been decorated to mark the date when the Samaritan’s founder, Prebendary Dr Chad Varah, took the first call on November 2, 1953.
On Thursday, Sunderland’s branch used a Foundation of Life health bus to mark the anniversary and encourage people to ask for help.
Mayor of Sunderland Robert Heron and Mayoress Juliana Heron visited the bus in Market Square, and the phone booth.
The Samaritans, which opened its Sunderland branch in 1970, is one of the Mayor’s charities.
“It’s great that it’s the 60th anniversary this year in my year as Mayor,” he said.
“I have friends who have lost family to suicide, so that is one of the reasons for choosing it.
“The bus is a good way to raise awareness of the charity and the Sunderland Suicide Prevention Group, and seems to have had a good response.” Sunderland Samaritans gets about 9,000 phonecalls each year, and volunteers met with about 1,000 people on Thursday to spread the word.”
Director of the Samaritans’ Sunderland Branch Allan Monkhouse said: “When people think they have no one else, we want them to know that we are available 24 hours a day.
For help, call 0845 790 9090.