Evaluating a new way to volunteer with Samaritans

We are helping Samaritans by evaluating a new – flexible – way to volunteer with them, to support the 10,000 calls for help they answer every day.

Samaritans provide a 24-hour emotional support service to people across the country. Volunteers are at the heart of this, with over 20,000 delivering their valuable work across Samaritans’ branches. 

But some people face challenges with a traditional volunteering model, limiting their ability to commit to volunteering. Samaritans are therefore piloting a new model of volunteering and want this evaluated. This approach offers volunteers more flexibility over how much time they can give, the location where they volunteer and channel to support service users (e.g. phone, online chat). 

We are evaluating this pilot over the coming months. This will include:

  • secondary data analysis – including comparison between two flexible volunteering hubs with matched pairs in other Samaritans branches
  • a survey of flexible volunteers – with comparisons against existing data from a national 2018 Samaritans survey of all volunteers
  • interviews with flexible volunteers themselves to capture how this approach works for them and how it affects their wellbeing
  • interviews with wider stakeholders, such as hub or branch directors, to see how the new approach has improved volunteer recruitment and any issues it’s thrown up.

This evaluation will help Samaritans to decide the best way for people to volunteer and support the people they listen to every day.

You can see more about the valuable work done by Samaritans on their website:www.samaritans.org