Samaritans sets up own parliamentary grouping

Samaritans is working with MPs to set up its own all-party parliamentary group in an effort to increase awareness of its brand at Westminster.

The group will be chaired by Ed Vaizey, the shadow arts minister.

Although it is common practice for charities to work with parliamentarians to create all-party parliamentary subject groups, Samaritans will become only the third charity with its own group. Voice UK and Cafod also have their own all-party parliamentary committees.

"We're trying to make sure our brand is as well-known to MPs as it is to the general public," said Anthony Langan, public affairs manager at Samaritans.

Langan said the charity had worked with other all-party groups in the past, but found that discussions and enquiries were directed towards the work of the voluntary organisations that helped organise them.

"They were working from the perspective of the secretariat group," he said.

Langan said the Samaritans group, which is set to launch later this year, would look into new and under-researched areas.

He said he hoped MPs would learn more about all aspects of the charity's work, such as its increased emphasis on tackling stress.

Samaritans encouraged people to wear slippers to work on Stress Down Day last week to highlight the problems caused by anxiety in the office.

"We want them to be aware of Samaritans activities that are less well-known than the telephone service," Langan said.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the all-party parliamentary climate change group, Colin Challen MP, has announced he will step down at the next General Election to become a full-time environmental campaigner.

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