Declan Horgan, a Fab 24 employee who works in the C4 group and is also a Samaritans volunteer, was recently recognised as a global finalist in one of Intel’s most prestigious awards – the Intel Hero award. Declan, who hails from Blanchardstown in Dublin, has been volunteering with Dublin Samaritans since 2018.
The work of the Samaritans
Dublin Samaritans are a volunteer led charity and is the biggest branch in Ireland with approximately 270 volunteers and 2 full time employed staff. The branch relies heavily on volunteers willing to use their skills, talent, and experience to assist in the efficient day to day running of the branch and its various activities. Volunteers are trained in a range of skills including active listening, resilience, coping with difficult conversations, being non-judgemental and recognising unconscious bias. These skills are essential for Samaritans volunteers to carry out their roles but are also carried back by each volunteer into their community, family, and workplace resulting in a much wider impact on their everyday communications with people.
Declan is a trained Listening Volunteer at Dublin Samaritans where he contributes to the vision that fewer people die by suicide by providing non-judgmental confidential listening services to the most vulnerable in our society.
In addition to his listening duties, Declan has taken on extra responsibilities and duties in the Dublin Branch. He is the Branch Safety Officer, Chairs the branch Covid-19 Response Team, is a member of the Outreach Team, and provides on-going mentoring to other volunteers.
Providing support through Covid
In March 2020, as the impact of the Covid-19 crisis affected the delivery of services, Declan co-ordinated the Dublin Samaritans Branch response. The record held by Dublin Branch of providing 50 years of unbroken service was put at risk as over 20% of volunteers were advised to “cocoon” and policy does not allow volunteers to take calls from home.
Declan collaborated with the Branch leadership team and the HSE to formulate a workable solution to ensure continuity of services. All non-essential volunteers were advised to stay at home, reduced numbers of volunteers were permitted in the branch and strict social distancing protocols and hygiene practices were put in place to ensure ongoing safety. Additionally, Declan instigated a contact tracing register within the building in the event of a volunteer contacting the virus, and sourced and installed Fire Door stops, allowing doors stay open, increasing ventilation and reducing touch points in the Building.
The supports and structures put in place by Declan gave volunteers confidence in the prevention of in-house transmission and resulted in the continued uninterrupted listening service to the community.
Additionally, there has been no cases of close contact spread of Covid-19 within the Branch.
An unwavering commitment
Since joining Dublin Samaritans in December 2018 Declan has demonstrated an unwavering committed to the organisation. Following the completion of 35 hours of in-depth training and a period of mentoring he became a listening volunteer who has consistently met and exceeded the goals and expectations of the branch: completing a 3 hour listening duty every week and a 6 hour overnight from 12 midnight to 6:00am every 2 months. He has shown ongoing dedication to the branch by assuming additional responsibilities for the role of Branch Safety Officer. He has trained as an Outreach Services volunteer to schools and communities to support them in times of crisis. He has represented Dublin Samaritans at the National Cycle for Suicide event for teenagers and has spoken in front of an audience of 3000 people.
In addition, Declan is now a mentor to other listening volunteers to ensure that the highest standards are consistently maintained. Since March 2020, he chairs the Branch Covid Response Team and ensures that everything possible is being done to support volunteers and the ongoing service.
A lasting impact
Dedicated volunteers like Declan ensure that Samaritans continue to be there for anyone who is struggling to cope day or night, 365 days a year. In 2019, 421 people died by suicide in Ireland.
Since becoming a volunteer, Declan has provided 214 listening hours to callers. He has provided human contact which is more important than ever as people need time, undivided attention, and empathy to meet a fundamental emotional need to reduce distress and despair in these uncertain times.
Declan has spent numerous hours working on Safety issues (including Covid) and regularly visits the Branch for essential safety reviews, upgrades, and audits.
Declan has also supported various Outreach initiatives and mentored peer volunteers.
In collaboration with the Leadership Team Declan has worked tirelessly to maintain a safe environment for the volunteers thus ensuring their ongoing vital work continues during these unpresented times.
Speaking about the impact of Declan’s volunteer work with the organisation, Anne Vaughan, the Director of Dublin Samaritans, said;
“I am incredibly fortunate to have Declan’s knowledge, commitment, and support. Since he started with Samaritans, he has been very generous with his time and expertise. Declan has engaged with mentoring and supporting other volunteers, in addition to outreach activities where we support people in different settings such as schools”.
Volunteers have been there when people needed them most
Samaritans believe that suicide is preventable, not inevitable and have a vision that fewer people die by suicide. By providing a non-judgmental confidential listening service to the most vulnerable in society, they work to alleviate emotional distress and reduce incidences of suicidal feelings and self-harm by providing a safe and confidential space and a supportive and compassionate listening ear to anyone struggling to cope.
During this global pandemic, volunteers in Dublin Samaritans continue to be there 24/7 for callers to help reduce feeling of disconnection and isolation and to give them time, undivided attention and empathy to meet a fundamental emotional need during this extraordinary period in their lives
Volunteers, like Declan, are ordinary people doing extraordinary things who are the organisations’ greatest asset. Without them, Samaritans simply would not exist.
The Intel Involved Hero Award is Intel’s way to recognise extraordinary employee volunteers, who through their commitment as well as innovative approach and ability to inspire others, have had a sustainable impact on a non-profit/non-governmental organisation or school. Every year Intel employees around the world are nominated for the prestigious recognition.
Additional information about Intel is available at:
Media contact: Sarah Sexton | firstname.lastname@example.org | + 353 1 606 8537