Citation Smith L, Callaghan JEM & Fellin LC (2018) A qualitative study exploring the experience and motivations of UK Samaritan volunteers: "Why do we do it?". British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2018.1546378
Abstract Telephone helplines offer a valued service for those in distress. However, little research has explored the experience of helpline volunteers. Through semi-structured interviews, in this article we explore the volunteering experiences of nine long-term UK Samaritan volunteers. Interviews were analysed using Interpretive Interactionism. The analysis highlighted that this volunteering impacted participants' experience of their sense of self. The decision to volunteer was framed as part of a search for personal meaning, tied to experiences of loss and reparation. They reflected positively on their volunteer identity, but highlighted tensions between a sense of vocation and the experience of care burden. The Samaritan Community also offered a sense of belonging and social support. They experienced involvement as personally meaningful, enabling the construction of a positive self-identity.