A dedicated volunteer for Buxton and High Peak Samaritans is taking on a gruelling ultra-marathon to help fund the vital support service.
Rob Bedford, 28, will be running a punishing 62 miles from Richmond in London to Brighton with girlfriend Martha Sacree, 27, on Saturday.
Cancer research scientist Rob decided to take the challenge on while volunteering at the Samaritans and seeing first-hand the huge demand on call-takers from people in ‘awful situations’.
Rob signed up for the job 18 months ago after having used the service himself during ‘troubled times’.
The 28-year-old - who works the night shift between 9pm-12am - told how the phones ‘never stop ringing’ and during the peak time at 1am callers queue for 15 minutes.
He said: “It’s hard - if anyone says it isn’t hard they’re lying and there are some calls you take you know will stay with you for the rest of your life. But on the whole you feel privileged to share these moments with people who are in such awful situations - it makes you realise how lucky you are.
“At the end of the call they say ‘Rob, thank you for listening, I feel better’ - if it’s just for a few moments it’s worth it.”
Rob, who started running about eight years ago and has run two marathons, told how the immense demand on the helpline showed more resources were needed to tackle mental health problems.
He said: “We’re happy to talk to people and will always be there for them but if there was more substantial provision of services for people with mental health difficulties I don’t think we would be getting so many calls.”
Buxton and High Peak Samaritans needs up to £20,000 a year just to cover bills.
Rob hopes to raise at least £2,000 to help Buxton branch answer over 1,000 free-of-charge calls a month.
To make a donation click here.
n If you need someone to talk to, call Buxton Samaritans on 0845 790 9090