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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

More than just an actuary: finding peace and calm

Stress down day and Time for tea; two campaigns that by the sound of them would have my full backing even before I knew who was running them! So what sort of organisation encourages us to make time for a cup of tea and a chat and to wear slippers to work as part of a ‘stress down day’? The answer is the Samaritans.

I started volunteering for the Samaritans when I moved down to London to start my job at Ernst & Young. I had done some very similar charity work at university and had always found it gave me peace of mind and a sense of calm that I could not find anywhere else. That was four years ago and I have not looked back since. Through volunteering I have encountered some of the most incredible people that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet. I also feel that the training I have received, and continue to receive (CPD is not just for actuaries!), makes me a better listener. We are all very good at hearing each other but the Samaritans training taught me how to really listen to other people.

So what does being a Samaritan involve? It really depends on how you want to get involved. The Samaritans provide many services ranging from listener schemes in prisons and developing emotional awareness and learning in schools, through to our festival branch, which offers an empathetic ear to any welly-clad festivalgoer who needs someone to talk to. There is so much you can do as a volunteer; organising information evenings, helping with recruitment drives, running training sessions and, most importantly, organising socials.

As a listening volunteer I find the shifts fit quite easily around my job and the fundraising events I have attended have always been fantastic — energetic and fun with a real sense of achievement at the end of the day. In joining the Samaritans I wanted to help other people find peace in their lives. Little did I realise that it would bring such a sense of peace to my life too. If you would like more information on the Samaritans, or find out how you can get involved, please visit www.samaritans.org