Blue Monday: Samaritans offer free tea at railway stations

TODAY – the third Monday of January – is said to be the bleakest and most depressing day of the year and has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’.

But Samaritans volunteers are hoping to debunk the myth of ‘the toughest day of the year’ by handing out free tea bags at railway stations across the South West, including at Kemble, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa and Swindon.

Renaming the day ‘Brew Monday’, the Samaritans have joined forces with Great Western Railway to encourage staff and customers to share a cuppa and a catch-up with someone they care about.

GWR and Network Rail colleagues will join Samaritans volunteers at stations, handing out teabags and talking to passengers about the importance of reaching out for a chat.

GWR Human Resources director Ruth Busby: “We’re encouraging people to recognise the power of human connection and start a conversation which could save a life.

“This Brew Monday we’re saying out with the blue and in with the brew.”

Samaritans’ CEO Julie Bentley said: “We’re so grateful to the rail industry for their support of Brew Monday again this year. Throughout the various lockdowns and restrictions, the pandemic has shown us that staying connected with others has been a vital part of getting people through difficult times.

“We know the impact talking and listening can have, and a cup of tea and a chat won’t solve everything, but it can be a start. You don’t have to have all the answers or solutions, you just need to listen and start a conversation which could just be the support that someone needs.”

Although winter is thought to be one of the harder seasons with dark days and frosty nights, Samaritans volunteers hear similar concerns all year round from those who contact the charity. The main concerns include mental health and illness (46%), family (34%) and loneliness (28%).

Samaritans volunteers were at Newton Abbot Station last Monday, where The Lions Barber Collective hosted a special pop-up barbershop encouraging people to get a free haircut and discuss their mental health at the same time.

Today Samaritans volunteers will be on hand at Kemble, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, Swindon, Bath Spa, Exeter Central, Exeter St Davids, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro stations, handing out tea bags and engaging in a chat with customers.

Find out more at samaritans.org/brewmonday

Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org

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