Samaritans is urging its supporters to host fundraising birthday parties throughout its golden jubilee year, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary next month with a series of events.
On 2 November 2003 - the emotional-support charity's official birthday - a wide range of events, from small lunches to theme parties, film festivals and barn dances, will be launched from its 203 centres in the UK and Ireland.
As well as holding its own events, Samaritans is encouraging "anyone and everyone" to hold a fundraising party on its behalf over the next 12 months.
"We hope that people will celebrate with us the fact that Samaritans has been a lifeline to the UK for half a century, giving distressed people the time and space to find a way through," said Samaritans departing chief executive Simon Armson. "Although many things have changed over the past 50 years, Samaritans has always been there for everyone, everywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We hope that people will help us to help others by holding a party on our behalf."
News of the party programme was sent out to Samaritans' 100,000 supporters in its latest newsletter. Party packs, containing fundraising ideas, party recipes and sponsorship forms, are being sent out to anyone who wants to hold an event in aid of the charity.
"The reason we are encouraging people to hold parties for us is because they promote good emotional health - everyone can let their hair down, relax and de-stress," explained the campaign's co-ordinator, Debbie Parker.
Armson added: "Our 50th birthday party is about more than just celebrating our achievements so far. We want to look forward to our future. In a society where suicide is still one of the biggest killers, particularly of young people, we will be looking closely at how we respond to the changing needs of people in emotional distress over the next 50 years and beyond."