You are running late by the time you arrive at the office. As you make your way over towards your desk, your can hear that your phone is already going. You glance at the clock and can see your shift doesn't start for another five minutes.
[[Answer phone]] || [[Leave phone until shift starts]]
"Samaritans, how can I help"
"Hey, I didn't know who to call, so I thought I would call you guys. I think I have ruined my life, and I have nowhere to go and no one to go to. I wouldn't normally be ringing, but it's just getting too much."
You introduce yourself to him and let him know that he has come to the right place.
"Yeah hi, my names John." He says sheepishly.
[[Tell him it's fine to just talk]]
[[Push him for the reason he phoned]]You decide not to answer the phone just yet, and instead start to get your desk in order. After two minutes the phone stops ringing and you hope they will ring back later. You settle into your chair now happy that you are ready for your shift. The phone starts to ring again, and you pick it up.
"Samaritans, how can I help?"
There is a pause on the other end of the line.
"Goodevening there poppet, my name is Moira." The ladies voice sounds old and frail.
"Good evening Moira, what can I do for you this evening?"
Moira pauses again "Well sweetheart, you know how it is, when you get to my age the world sometimes gets a little bit too much. Everyone seems to always be plugged into their technology and its hard to make sense out of anything you hear on the news. Thankfully my cats can't use phones, otherwise I doubt I would be able to make any sense of them either.
[[Talk about cats]] || [[Make general chitchat]]"How many cats do you have Moira?"
She perks up as the conversation turns to her cats. "I have three; George, Victor and Tommy. Victor is the oldest and I've had him for seventeen years! He's as old and regal as me these days, just spends his days sitting around. Having them has been a godsend since my husband died. He was never really a cat person, he always wanted a dog."
She spends a few minutes discussing the benefits of cats over dogs, and it is obvious that she is entirely biased on the subject.
"...so that is why you should always get a cat! Especially in this weather, when it's this cold out you don't want to be walking a dog, thats for sure! Speaking of which you can't even trust the weatherman these days, nearly always wrong and making me take my brolly out for no reason."
[[Ask her more about her husband]] || [[Talk about the weather]]You make general conversation with her. The topics range from favourite kinds of tea to the lack of entertaining things on television.
"...and when you get to my age, the cold starts getting to you more. You feel it in your bones. Especially when it's this cold out. I am definitely looking forward to the summer, that's for sure."
[[Talk about the weather]] "How long ago did your husband pass away Moira?"
"A year ago now. He was a grumpy sod, but he had his moments. Died of a bleed in the brain, so it was sudden." She pauses, sounding upset.
"I'm sorry to hear that"
"It's no worry, when you get to our age, it's only a matter of time I guess. Still, the house feels emptier now. Even watching television doesn't feel the same. My son occasionally visits, but it isn't frequent. I don't know what to do with myself a lot of the time, I feel like I am just pottering about waiting for my time as well."
You realise that Moira just sounds incredibly lonely. You go online and look for community outreach programs in her area that help older folk get out and about and socialise. You can see that there is one in her area.
[[Tell her you are booking her onto the program]]
[[Give her the choice to sign up for the program]]"I agree Moira, it's been terrible weather lately."
"Don't I know it! I swear winter has shrunk, but now we are stuck months of grey and horrible. Even my cats don't want to go outside, and usually they are off out on adventures as soon as the door opens!"
Moira pauses, "Anyway love, I think I have taken up more than enough of your time. Thank you for the chat."
"Are you sure there is nothing else I can do for you!"
"I'm sure. And again, thanks for your time. Have a good evening!"
Moira hangs up the phone, leaving you wondering whether there was any other way you could have dealt with that situation.
[[A couple of days later]] "Ok Moira, there is a community program in your area that specialises in getting people out of the house. I really think it would be a great fit for you. I am going to drop them an email and ask them to get in touch with you, ok?
"Oh, no love there isn't any need to do that. I don't want to hassle anyone." You can hear uncertainty in her voice.
"It's what the program is there for Moira! You shouldn't be spending all day inside, it isn't good for you!"
She still doesn't seem convinced, but she accepts your judgement on the issue.
"Ok love, I will take your word for it!"
You chat for another ten minutes as you try to put her at ease about the program you are signing her up for. Eventually she seems almost excited for it.
"Right love, I'm not going to take up any more of you time. It's been a pleasure."
"The program should hopefully get back to you tomorrow Moira, if not chase them up."
You say your goodbyes and she hangs up.
[[Several days later]] "Moira, there is a community program I think would be good for you, that will help you get out of the house more. Do you want me to drop them an email and see if we can get you signed up?"
Moira sounds visibly dismayed, "Oh no dear, I couldn't be that much of a bother. I'm fine as I am really. Don't worry yourself too much about me!"
"Are you sure Moira? It won't be a bother."
"No, I really am fine. I have taken up too much of your time as it is." She sounds resolute in her decision, so you concede defeat.
"Ok, if you are sure Moira."
[[Days later]]The rest of the night is slow and uneventful. several days pass, you are sat in the office talking to a colleague. It's unusually quiet. You see on the news about a story an ex soldier that took his own life.
"Shame he didn't call us, we could have helped him." You remark aloud, not to anyone specifically.
You Briefly think of Moira, and wonder if she is doing ok with her cats and feel regret you didnt book her onto that outreach program.The rest of the night is slow and uneventful. several days pass, you are sat in the office talking to a colleague. It's unusually quiet. You see on the news about a story an ex soldier that took his own life.
"Shame he didn't call us, we could have helped him." You remark aloud, not to anyone specifically.
The phone starts ringing. You pick it up and hear a somewhat familiar voice. You realise it is Moira. She thanks you for your help, and starts regailing you with stories of new friends she has made on the program. You are happy to chat to her.The rest of the night is slow and uneventful. several days pass, you are sat in the office talking to a colleague. It's unusually quiet. You see on the news about a story an ex soldier that took his own life.
"Shame he didn't call us, we could have helped him." You remark aloud, not to anyone specifically."You can talk to me about whatever you want John, I'm here to listen."
"Well, like I was saying, I think I messed up my life. I've been hitting the alcohol too hard, burnt down a lot of the bridges with people I care about most, hit that big old self destruct button a bit too hard. And before I knew it I was homeless, my wife has left me and it's all just got really fucked up."
[[Talk about his homelessness]]"Is there a particular reason you are calling John, because it sounds like you have something you want to talk about, and I'm here to help you if I can..."
For some reason he takes offence to being pushed into discussing the reason for his call.
"Look yeah, please don't talk to me like I am some kind of dickhead. I have enough shit going on that I don't need it from some fucking Samaritan as well."
[[Apologise]] || [[Reprimand him for being rude]]"I'm sorry John, I didn't mean to come off like that. Obviously I just want to help in any way I can."
John mulls this over for a second. "No, I'm sorry. It's just been a hard couple of weeks. I've been living on the streets, and it's made my patience shorter than I would like."
"I understand, and like I said I really do want to help you."
[[Talk about his homelessness]] "Look John, there is no need to be rude, if you want my help then I will help you. But if you are going to be rude, then we really aren't going to get a whole lot out of this. Do you wan't to calm down and we can try this again?"
This seems to make John more angry.
"Seriously? What the fuck even is this? I called to speak to someone for help. You know what, I don't need this shit. Go fuck yourself!"
There is a click as the line goes dead. You hang up your end in annoyance.
[[A few days later]] The rest of the night is slow and uneventful. several days pass, you are sat in the office talking to a colleague. It's unusually quiet. You see on the news about a story an ex soldier that took his own life. You recognise it to be John, and feel a little bit sick in your stomach. You wish you could have done more."You mentioned you are homeless at the minute. Do you want to talk about that?"
"It's hard... It's really hard."
He pauses for a second, you go to say something, but instead decide to wait.
"I've not washed my clothes in a week, and I'm exhausted, and I hate not knowing if I will find anywhere warm to sleep at night. I can go sit in a McDonalds for an hour or two to charge my phone and get warm, but I don't want to stay there too long in case they actually realise I'm homeless and throw me out which would mean I can't even charge my phone anymore. My sleeping bag is only taking the edge off the cold as well..."
[[Push for the root cause]] || [[Let him continue]]You can hear John getting more emotional on the other end of the phone. His homelessness is obviously having a huge effect on his mental state.
"How did you end up being homeless?
"It kind of all just fell apart when I left the army. And then I lost my job and my wife left me, and I was hitting the alcohol harder than I should have. It all got really fucked up really quickly. I was in debt, with no place to go. I fucked it all up really bad."
[[Discuss his time in the army]]You let him continue on, he seems to be iterating the same points and just making himself more and more upset. He begins to sound almost tearful.
[[Bring him back on target]] || [[Keep listening]]His rant seems to be going nowhere so you decide to try and steer him towards something constructive. A couple of time he mentions having been in the army, so you decided to pursue that avenue, and see if you can get to the bottom of the issue.
[[Discuss his time in the army]] He continues to talk about how messed up it all is. He is now audibly sobbing down the phoneline to you.
"I understand it's hard John."
The suddenly like a switch his voice calms down.
"You know what, it doesn't matter. I'm sorry for wasting your time. I should be sorting my own shit out."
With that he hangs up and is gone. You wonder if you dealt with the situation badly.
[[A few days later]] "You mentioned it all fell apart after you left the army, what makes you think that?"
John's voice breaks momentarily. You can hear the upset in his voice. "A couple of my friends died, and I don't think I processed it well. I thought I had at the time, but it feels like long term it's fucked me up. It seemed like a good idea to leave the army, but it was just massively isolating. It was such a bad idea."
"Have you ever seen anyone about maybe having post traumatic stress disorder?"
"No, you can't really discuss that stuff, it's considered a personal weakness. And honestly, I refuse to believe I am that weak."
It is obvious that there are deeper psychological issue here than a phone call can resolve. You remember that your colleague Paul also used to be a soldier, and that he might know who to call. Also the calling the mans wife might be a good option, and help get him off the streets.
[[Confer with a colleague]] || [[Call wife]]"John, I'm just going to put you on hold while I confer with one of my colleagues, just stay on the line and I will be back in a minute or two ok?"
John sounds deflated, almost like he thinks you aren't going to get back to him. "Yeah, sure."
You reassure him you will be back in a second and then place him on hold. You pull out your mobile phone and call your colleague Paul, who picks up after a couple of rings.
"Hey whats up?"
You explain to him the situation you have got, and that you are worried about the guys mental state. Paul thinks on it for a minute or two, and then tell you the the Royal British Legion is potentially your best bet, he gives you the contact details and you decide to go back to John with this.
[[Let him know about the Royal British Legion]]"Is there any chance you can reconcile the situation with your wife?"
There is a long pause. "I don't think so, we haven't spoken in a couple of months." His voice sounds pained.
"I'm concerned about your current situation John, do you think it would be worth me trying to speak with her?"
"I mean you can try."
He gives you her contact details, and you put him on hold so you can ring her. The phone rings a couple of times before someone picks it up.
"Hi, I'm calling from the Samaritans. I have been speaking to your husband."
The womans voice is immediately cold, "Ok, what do you want?" Her icy tone makes you immediately regret this idea, but you continue on.
"He is currently living on the streets, obviously it's cold out and I'm worried about his overall mental state. I was hoping you would be able to help."
"Look, I don't know what he has told you, but he's an alcoholic waste of space. He was so overwhelmingly negative I was glad to get away from him, and I'm not really in a hurry to have him back in my life. So I don't think you are going to get any of the help you are looking for from me."
You half heartedly thank her for her time and hang up. You take John off hold again.
"Hi John, I'm back."
"Did you get through to my wife?"
[[Lie to him]] || [[Tell him what she said]]"I didn't manage to get through to her."
"That's fine, I think I burnt all my bridges down there anyway to be honest." There is a deep sadness in his voice. You wrack your brain thinking of how you can further help him, and begin looking at local housing projects.
[[Try a local housing project]]"John, I spoke to your wife."
You can almost hear his apprehension. "What did she say?"
You tell him everything that she said. You can tell that it greatly upsets him.
"She's right you know, I'm just one big fucking failure. I fucked everything up. You know what none of this even matters."
He hangs up before you can say anything else to him.
[[A few days later]] "John, I just spoke with my colleague, and I think there are a couple of things we can do, I am going to put you in touch with a night shelter near you. They might be able to provide you with a temporary place to stay. The other thing I am going to do is send an email to the Royal British Legion, I don't know if you know who they are?"
"I've heard of them, don't know what they do though..."
"Basically they are a support charity for former members of the armed forces. They should be able to help you out. I'm also going to ring through to a local night shelter, see if we can't arrange to get you in there."
Putting John on hold again you call your friend in a local housing project. You explain the situation, and they tell you that though they can't do anything that night, they can attempt to get him a bed if he shows up tomorrow evening. You feedback this information to John, who thanks you for your time. You wish him luck.
[[Several weeks later]] During a standard night in the office, you receive an email from John's Royal British Legion support agent, who is let's you know that John has actually started receiving help for his depression. He thanks you for putting John through, stating that his mental health was not great when they reached out to him, but has been steadily improving. You feel warm and fuzzy as you hear the phone start ringing again...Putting John on hold again you call your friend in a local housing project. You explain the situation, and they tell you that though they can't do anything that night, they can attempt to get him a bed if he shows up tomorrow evening. You feedback this information to John, who thanks you for your time. You wish him luck.