The charity is aiming to break the stigma around suicide and mental health by encouraging people to ‘believe in tomorrow’ as it begins its campaign for next year’s TCS London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday 21 April 2024.
Samaritans hope to raise £1.7 million through the event so more volunteers can be recruited and trained to reach vulnerable people in need of help, and ultimately save lives.
Funds will also go towards supporting the 24/7 helpline, which last year saw thousands of volunteers spend one million hours answering calls and messages by phone, email, letters and online chats.
The high demand for the Samaritans’ 24/7 helpline and services continues as the nation grapples with the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. Samaritans is the only suicide prevention charity working across the UK and Ireland offering 24/7 support and last year 23,000 people volunteered for the charity.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the TCS London Marathon, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Samaritans as our official Charity of the Year for the 2024 TCS London Marathon. The work Samaritans does to support the most vulnerable and lonely in our society is essential. We wish Team Samaritans all the very best in their efforts to raise crucial funds to help reach those who need their support the most and to save many more lives.”
Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said: “The TCS London Marathon is almost a metaphor for life, a journey of highs, with important milestones along the way, but also moments of struggle, when a bit of help is needed. So, after 70 years of supporting people as they face their own challenges, Samaritans is delighted to be chosen as the 2024 TCS London Marathon Charity of the Year, for the world’s most iconic marathon.
“Samaritans services are always busy, and we also need support to help fund our life-saving work. Every step taken and pound raised will help us be there for more people, from all backgrounds and walks of life, who are struggling to cope. With you by our side, we can recruit and train volunteers from a diverse range of communities across the UK and Ireland meaning, we can reach more people, answer more calls for help and, ultimately, save lives.
“So, I’m urging everyone to get behind #TeamSamaritans at the 2024 TCS London Marathon and together we can really believe in tomorrow.”
Hundreds of Samaritans volunteers from more than 200 branches will be cheering participants on in London on Marathon Day, and out in their local communities turning town centres Samaritans green, as well as supporting people who are running, walking or jogging in the virtual 2024 TCS London Marathon.
Laura, who ran for the charity and was part of Team Samaritans in 2022, wanted to support Samaritans as a way to thank one of the charity’s volunteers who saved her life.
She said: “Samaritans saved my life. When I was struggling with my mental health a few years ago, I felt alone and unable to carry on with life. I felt like I was a burden, and that there was no way back for me, until one late night I plucked up the courage and called Samaritans’ helpline.
“A conversation with a Samaritan brought me back from a very dark place – without that call there is a high chance that I wouldn’t be here today. Running the TCS London Marathon was a little way for me to pay back the support that Samaritans gave to me when I needed someone the most.”