National treasure Dame Julie Walters has joined faces from TV, comedy and show business across the UK in encouraging us all to have a cuppa and chat with someone they care about beyond Samaritans’ recent Brew Monday.
This month’s Blue Monday is branded “most difficult day of the year” but the leading suicide prevention charity says feeling low can happen to any one on any day.
In a bid to uplift the nation as pandemic uncertainties continue, Samaritans encourage people to lend an ear to loved ones after raising a cuppa on Brew Monday.
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 that contact the charity.
Chief concerns include mental health and illness (46 per cent), family (34 per cent) and loneliness (28 per cent).
To mark Brew Monday, Julie Walters and Keith Lemon, as well as comedian James Acaster and EastEnders actor Stevie Basaula, featured in a sketch ripping apart last week’s fictional date, instead inviting people to connect with someone over a cuppa and chat any day of any week.
Samaritans Ambassador Julie said: “People go through a range of emotions throughout the year so the idea of feeling blue on one day is a load of rubbish. I’ve had my fair share of blue days and have found solace in speaking to loved ones over a cuppa.
“It doesn’t have to be Monday, or a cuppa, connecting with someone at any time during the year shows them you are there and ready to listen.”
Talented artists connected to Samaritans, who have experience of mental health struggles, also lent their paintbrushes and pencils by create new uplifting illustrations that share a message of connection with others over a catch-up.
Artwork from Britain’s Got Talent contestant and food artist Nathan Wyburn, former volunteer and illustrator and author James Norbury, and contemporary wellbeing artist Emelie Hryhoruk, who has called Samaritans for support in the past, are being shown on digital screens across Network Rail stations to inspire passengers.
James, a former Samaritans volunteer who recently published his first illustrated book Big Panda & Tiny Dragon, shares some of the ideas that helped him through difficult times.
“Having struggled with intrusive thoughts for years, I’ve felt the pain and sadness that many callers experience.
“Talking can help you feel less alone and bring the problems sitting at the back of your head in the shadowy darkness, into the light. Things can often feel much more tangible, rather than a confusing awful mess. Talking about how you feel is a great tonic.”
Hundreds of Samaritans volunteers will be out at their local train stations across the UK throughout January, supporting key workers and those who are travelling, providing tea bags and tips on how to be a better listener.
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.