David Matthews is a Samaritans volunteer raising awareness of the mental health charity by walking over 6,000 miles and has visited Ballymena branch as part of his tour.
David is walking to all 201 Samaritans branches across Ireland and the UK to show people how a Samaritans volunteer is always there for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
He arrived at 2pm on August 10 for a short stop over before making his way on to Coleraine.
Marie, Branch Director, said: “David has been an inspiration for Samaritans volunteers and callers and we couldn’t wait to welcome him to our branch.”
Starting in his hometown of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in April 2019, David’s Listening Walk faced multiple delays due to coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns.
He is now back on track and his journey has taken him across England, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. He hopes to return to his hometown and branch by November.
David said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing the country and meeting the people while I’m there.
“It’s always nice if people stop for a little chat, or if a car toots and someone waves. It gives you a little spring in your step to keep going.”
His aim is also to raise awareness about Samaritans service, listen to people’s experiences along the way and recruit new volunteers. David has also raised over £17,000 to date.
To donate to David’s fund visit: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidMatthews
Samaritans is the only 24-hour emotional support helpline covering the island of Ireland.
Marking 60 years in Ireland this year, it has over 2,300 volunteers in 201 branches that answer over half a million calls and emails a year from people in crisis.
David will stay in branches and on campsites during his walk around Ireland, with his tent and all his belongings packed into his trusted walking trailer.
He said the highlight of his trip has been the people he’s met along the way, including volunteers at branches and members of the public.
“That part has been amazing, I’ve really enjoyed it. The lowest point was the weather … I don’t mind a bit of rain but some days it rained day after day so you can’t dry out.”
The Listening Walk will visit Drogheda, Newry, Portadown, Bangor, Belfast, Ballymena, Coleraine, Derry, Omagh, Sligo, Athlone, Galway, Ennis, Limerick, Tralee, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Arklow and Newbridge. He will finish in Dublin in late September/ early October.
You can follow David’s journey on Twitter and Facebook.
n Samaritans is a safe place to discuss your thoughts and feelings – you do not have to be suicidal to reach out.
n Phone 116 123 any time, day or night – a volunteer is always available to offer support and understanding.
n If you feel that you can’t speak about your feelings you could email firstname.lastname@example.org and a volunteer will respond.