REPRESENTATIVES FROM the Samaritans in Spain charity recently spent the day at La Zenia Boulevard Shopping Centre outside Torrevieja.
The volunteers had a stand in the centre and spent the day chatting informally with shoppers about the service and support they are able to offer vulnerable individuals throughout the country.
They were particularly keen to raise further awareness of the Samaritans 24 hour listening service, which is available on a freephone number 900 525 100 throughout Spain.
The volunteers are returning to La Zenia Boulevard on Wednesday May 31and will be drawing attention to their mission, which focuses on offering empathy and compassion to everyone, as explained by Migel Jayasinghe: “Empathy is a word often used to define a trait that the Samaritans Volunteer Listeners are required demonstrate in their day to day work.
It is defined (by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) as ‘… the power of mentally identifying oneself with (and so fully comprehending) a person or object of contemplation.’
Empathy is contrasted with the word ‘sympathy’, defined (op. cit.) as ‘… a favourable attitude with feelings of pity and sorrow for the suffering or grief of another; an expression of compassion or condolence’.
The ability to understand and feel what others are feeling by placing oneself in the other persons ‘shoes’, (as it were), is more intimate and immediate than feeling or expressing sympathy from a somewhat detached perspective.
Compassion is a broader term than empathy encompassing a wider form of care and concern for others’ well-being. Compassion, care and empathy are said to be the cornerstone of health and social care in any society.
Volunteers join Samaritans because they want to make a positive difference to the lives of others in need of help.
Psychologists who examined the lives of care workers concluded that those most effective, developed in themselves traits of compassion, hope, optimism, self-efficacy, and resilience, along with a continued commitment to their profession.
Whatever the Samaritans of Spain undertake to do in the public sphere is grounded on empathetic listening and based on a solid moral and ethical foundation.”