For the people of Samaria, see Samaritan
Samaritans is a UK-based counseling organization, whose stated aim is to provide emotional support to those with feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide. It does this via telephone, e-mail and letter, and can provide face-to-face meetings.
Samaritans (originally The Samaritans) was founded in 1953 by an Anglican clergyman, the Revd. Chad Varah, based at his church, St Stephen Wallbrook, in the City of London. The organization takes its name from the Biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan because it aims to give impartial support to those in need, as it supposes the Good Samaritan did.
It operates through volunteers, who receive intensive training before they are allowed to be contacted by the public. In 2007 the organization had over 16,000 volunteers, and more than 5.3 million contacts were made, 90% by telephone.
The Samaritans aim to provide a non-judgmental listening service. The aim is to provide an empathic 'listening ear', rather than provide active advice. As such, it declines to make use of the effective therapeutic role of prayer and the advocacy of religious practice, and in the 'moral equivalence' position inherent in its non-judgmental approach it is passing over the opportunity to guide respondents to a more fulfilling life. Some volunteers have parted from the organization, and now operate through smaller, Church-based organization.