Providing different ways to communicate


Samaritans want to make sure that their Listening Service is available in ways that are accessible to anyone who might be going through a difficult time.

They try to achieve this by offering support face-to-face, on the phone, by email, by letter and soon by online chat. 

Samaritans aim for a mix of services so that people who prefer to communicate in spoken and written word can do so. Having different types of written word services also means that people can get support over different time horizons - some people may not have a block of time for a real-time conversation and may find it easier to have time between replies to compose their thoughts.

Some people may find it difficult or impossible to speak on the phone, communicate in writing or access support online. Some may find the presence of another person reassuring, others may find this stressful.

Key guidance

Make sure users can contact you on the channel that they prefer.

Clearly explain when and how users can reach you as well as when they'll get a response so they don’t feel like they’ve reached a dead end.

Think about how your product might encourage unhealthy habits in internet or device usage and look for ways to mitigate that.

Look for ways to make sure your product works on lower-end devices and doesn't need large amounts of data to use — this might include offline functionality and non-digital support.


  • Consider how different means of communication may impact the nature of the service you are offering. Users of asynchronous channels like email may expect to talk to the same person throughout a conversation and for that conversation to take place over a number of days. 

  • Consider how this will work for your staff as well as the people you are supporting.

Where can I find this?

Samaritans contact page


Simon Stewart