SOS Help offers support
SOS Help is a listening service for English speakers in France.
Whatever the problem, they are there to take your call every day from 3pm to 11pm.
Your call is confidential, you remain anonymous and listeners are non-judgmental.
There is no cost for this service except what your telephone service provider may charge you for the call.
If you are worried, anxious, feeling lonely or sad, or even suicidal, call them on 01 46 21 46 46.
SOS Help’s Christine Payne wrote to Frenchentree Loire to explain the organisation’s roots and objectives.
‘In the early 70s the ‘Common Market’, as it was then, was removing barriers in Europe. Multi-national companies were expanding, staff being transferred to meet business needs and individuals taking advantage of the new freedom of movement.
For some the glamour faded when confronted with the reality of living in a different culture and the stresses of coping in a foreign language.
At this time, social workers and mental health professionals at the American Hospital in Paris observed an increase in English-speaking patients experiencing psychiatric emergencies.
They felt that many would have been helped simply by having someone to talk to in their own language as their usual support system of family and friends was not available.
Thus the idea of a listening line was born.
The professionals, together with a Pastor of the American Church, contacted Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans.
He responded by coming to Paris and providing valuable information and advice.
At the same time, SOS Amitié, the French line, also assisted and provided the ‘umbrella’ organisation, heping us to come into existence as a federated ‘poste’ of SOS Amitié. The service was opened on 1st October 1974.
We seek volunteers who are available for minimum of one year after the training, which takes about three months as trainees go to the poste and do double listens early in their training.
We recruit volunteers twice a year – spring and autumn.
The listener training group is ideally 10-12. Supporters are also recruited to do the admin, fundraising and publicity tasks as the listeners stay anonymous.
We are currently trying to raise awareness of the service, and as the cost of phone calls has decreased over the last few years, it is feasible for English speakers all over France to call the line.
We help callers by listening to their problems, allowing them to express their feelings and helping them find their way forward. The calls are totally confidential and the caller stays anonymous.’
Visit SOS Helpline’s site for more details.
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