Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Becoming a 'listening volunteer' with Samaritans

David Hewitt

We recognise the importance of good health and wellbeing, and offer a range of support services to our students and staff.

In 2022 we teamed up with Samaritans, the leading suicide prevention charity, as part of a new partnership aimed at developing more online and digital support services. We've now established two Samaritans hubs on our campuses in Cambridge and Chelmsford. Anyone can contact the hubs and speak to fully trained student, staff and alumni volunteers.

One of these volunteers is David Hewitt, who studied at ARU from 1988-91 and graduated with a GDip in Building Management.

David has always believed in the importance of volunteering, and he was intrigued when he came across the appeal for new Samaritans listening volunteers. Having close friends affected by suicide and a background in mental health training, David felt a strong calling to take on this crucial role. He was also impressed by the comprehensive training programme offered by Samaritans.

“When I saw the appeal, I knew it was something I could commit to,” David explains. “I contacted the Samaritans training team, and they sent me some additional information to consider and arranged an interview. This felt important: for Samaritans to check the role was right for me and for me to check I understood what would be involved. It was a very comprehensive eight-week programme, which combined one evening a week learning with a small group of other volunteers and experienced Samaritans trainers plus a series of e-learning packages. I am now embarking on a mentoring programme with the excellent Samaritan mentors at the ARU hub.”

If you’re considering applying for the role of a Samaritans listening volunteer, David offers some valuable advice. “I would definitely recommend it,” he says. “Regardless of your level of experience, the training programme is comprehensive and supportive for everyone. Samaritans make sure that volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are welcomed and provided with the appropriate level of training and support.”

As for what David is looking forward to the most, he highlights the fulfilling nature of volunteering. “Volunteering is a rewarding experience,” he enthuses. “By giving your time to others, you’ll never regret it. With the Samaritans, an incredibly organised group, I’m confident that I’ll learn a lot about myself, gain new skills, and make lifelong friendships. It will be an emotional journey, but one that I know will be immensely rewarding for me and the people I may be able to help."