Alex goes the extra mile for Blackpool Samaritans for second year running

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In a bid to raise vital funds for the Samaritans, Alex has completed her second Samarathon, running 26.2 miles over the month of July – and not even an injury could stop her!

BES’ Learning and Development Trainer, Alex Dodd, spends two evenings a week volunteering for the Samaritans, answering calls and messages from people who need someone to talk to, and she wanted to go the extra mile and raise funds for her local Blackpool branch which had to close during lockdown.

The Samarathon is a sponsored challenge to walk, jog or run 26.2 miles within the month of July, and this is the second time Alex has completed the virtual marathon.

The timing couldn’t have been better, as training for the challenge with her dog Arnie gave Alex a focus and routine during lockdown. And she still found the time to continue with her volunteering.

“During lockdown I did more shifts with the Samaritans, and I found that people who has never used the services before were calling as they were struggling with loneliness,” said Alex. “Many of the callers who contacted Samaritans during the lockdown had not spoken to another person for several weeks.”

Halfway through the challenge, with 11 miles left to go, Alex sprained her ankle but she still found a way to complete her mission.

“I was so annoyed when I hurt my ankle, I couldn’t believe the timing of it! I knew I had to finish what I started so I rested it for a week and then decided to walk to my shift at the Samaritans and back, from Cleveleys to Blackpool, to complete the last leg.”

The Samaritans is crying out for volunteers, and Alex has some words of advice for anyone thinking of signing up.

“Volunteering and being there for someone in their darkest hour, providing them with support, is so rewarding. They often share things with you that they feel they can’t share with others.

“The support network is amazing, so you never feel alone with your thoughts following a shift. You’re always working with at least one other person and have a call with your manager at the end of your shift to discuss anything that you may have felt affected by.”

Volunteering even helps Alex in her job at BES, as she can easily spot people who aren’t paying attention during training.

“The training with the Samaritans teaches how to actively listen, and I can use examples of calls – without the specifics – during training. It’s also made me more aware of how people are feeling so when I’m delivering training and engaging a room, I can always tell who is listening.”

Samaritans is a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland, often through their telephone helpline.

Alex has raised a huge £469 so far, and she needs your help to reach her target of £1000. Click here to donate.

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