There is always something new and newsworthy going on at SOS Help! Read on for the latest press.
Bloggers Unite to Promote the SOS Help Line and Jazz Fundraiser
Lady Ricketts, Honorary Patron of SOS Help and wife of the British Ambassador, will be hosting a jazz benefit evening followed by a reception. And English-speaking bloggers with audiences in France have been helping get the word out! We greatly appreciate their support so we'd like to give them a little shout-out for taking the time to write about us:
Looking forward to seeing you there! Still need tickets? Buy now before they run out!
David Lebovitz supports SOS Help Fundraiser
On April 29, 2012, SOS Help presents "Vin & Vibes at Verjus", a fun and fundraising benefit evening for the organization. With MC Heather Stimmler-Hall, musician Cat Jahnke, and Paris' own David Lebovitz, it's sure to be a memorable evening!
We greatly appreciate the support of these people, as well as all the sponsors, donors, volunteers, and guests who will make this event a success! Read on for an export of David Lebovitz' blog post:
Living in a foreign country means that everyday tasks, from going to the bank to buying a bunch of bananas at the supermarket, can be a cultural minefield. (I'm still smarting for being berated by a Monoprix cashier for not having exact change a few days ago.) Although it can be an exhilarating adventure, it’s easy to feel isolated and stressed when adjusting to life in another culture. Paris is a beautiful, vibrant city, but like any other major city, it's hectic and stressful, and life as a foreigner can magnify problems.
So it's nice to know that there is a resource here to help. SOS Helpline is an English-speaking team of listeners available every day of the year, trained to talk to those in need, or to refer people to specialists. It's free and anonymous.
Looking forward to seeing you there! Still need tickets? Purchase now before they run out!
View the full blog post
SOS Help Receives Corporate Sponsorship from Groupe Aventers
SOS Help is funded fully through donations from generous people in the community, both English and French-speaking. Our newest support comes from Kisseo and ooprint, who are both part of Groupe Aventers. We appreciate their generosity! These two businesses offer services that are of particular interest for English speakers living in Paris:
Kisseo is the global leader in eCards, with unique eCards for every occasion, such as Birthday eCards, Love eCards, Thank You eCards, Easter eCards, and Christmas eCards, available in 5 different languages. This is great for all you expats abroad - you can easily stay connected with friends and family back home. And staying in touch with friends and family can greatly ease the transition into your new life in France, which is obviously important to us at SOS Help!
ooprint.com is an online printing service that allows you to choose and design your item online. The process is simple: you choose your desired product, the format and model, then customize the item with your own text, photos, images, and logo. Once you have finished designing your item, you place your order online. ooprint then prints, cuts, and packages your order and sends it directly to you by the delivery service you choose. For expats, this is a particularly great way to get holiday greeting cards, invitations, business cards, and other printed materials in English when in France.
Thanks again to both companies for their support of our organization. If you know of a company that would like to support us (and increase awareness with our audience at the same time!), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
paris (im)perfect Blogger Details Her Finds at the SOS Help Book Sale
Tons of people came out to our last book sale (on October 25, 2011) and it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves and scored some great books. So it was nice to hear that our perceptions were correct! Blogger Sion Dayson recounts her positive experience on her blog:
The scene: oodles of books spread across tables, scads of people hunting for treasure amid the stacks.
I myself squeal with delight when I run across great titles. A Visit From the Goon Squad! How has no one else spotted this multi-award winner? The Kite Runner. Ah-ha! I will finally get to see what all the fuss was about (I've already started it and can't stop turning pages). Reading Lolita in Tehran, The Poisonwood Bible (one of my favorites).
A big thank you to Sion for sharing her experience. Be sure to check out her blog for the full post, plus find out more about her upcoming book. Who knows, maybe she'll be signing books at one of our future sales!
View the full blog post
SOS Help is The French Paper's Organisation of the Month
For the month of June, SOS Help is "Organisation of the Month" in The French Paper. Here's the full article:
SOS Help, the listening line in English, opened its service on 1st October 1974. Today the volunteers are just a phone call away, continuing to provide emotional support to those callers living in France who prefer to speak in English.
The need for such a service was identified by a group of social workers and mental health professionals in Paris. They observed that, as the Common Market removed trade barriers in Europe, personnel were being transferred and individuals were opting to venture abroad. For some the glamour faded when they were confronted with a different culture, different language, and without the support system of family and friends, many became lonely and depressed. The idea of the service was born.
The association was linked to both the Samaritans and SOS Amitié from the beginning: Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, came to Paris to offer advice and information, whilst SOS Amitié provided assistance in the form of an "umbrella" organisation. SOS Help is the English speaking post of SOS Amitié's 50 posts in France.
The callers are anonymous, the call kept confidential. Some callers ring once, and for others SOS Help becomes part of their support network. The listeners are non-judgemental and non-directive. They try to help the caller find their own way out of their dilemma, and in this space of double-anonymity allow the caller to explore and express their feelings in their own language. Sometimes being in a new country, with a new language and new customs can be a little overwhelming. Just being listened to can help.
The listeners are from all over the world, different ages and backgrounds but share the ability to empathise with others. Like the callers, they are English speaking expats. Mental health professionals screen, train and provide ongoing support to the listeners.
Naturally there are bills to pay – rent, telephone bills, training fees and publicity. SOS Help is very lucky to receive donations from private individuals, churches and associations. The Paris used book sales are now part of the expat calendar, and we have almost 1000 clients on our bulletin list waiting for news of our sales of donated English language books. You can sign up on line on our website: www.soshelpline.org. We are also on Facebook. These also give us an opportunity to work with the English-speaking community in Paris and to raise awareness of the service as well as funds. We are grateful to have the support of Lady Westmacott of the British Embassy Residence in Paris as our honorary Patron. She generously hosted a fundraiser for us in 2010.
New Advertorial featured on The Connexion
In March, readers of The Connexion can find out about the spring book sale and the help line. The advertorial runs throughout their site. So hop on over to The Connexion and have a look!
View the full advertorial
Advertorial featured on The Connexion
Readers of The Connexion now know that "help is just a call away", thanks to a new advertorial running throughout their site. So hop on over to The Connexion and have a look!
View the full advertorial
The Connexion announces SOS Help Autumn Book Sale
We are grateful to The Connexion for announcing our book sale and our service in their latest edition. Below is an excerpt:
AN AUTUMN book sale will help raise money for an English helpline which provides emotional support for people in France.
SOS Help gives confidential, non-judgmental, emotional support and helps relieve stress 365 days a year, from 15.00 until 23.00.
"We are an entirely non-profit making association, we rely solely on the generous donations of the public in order to provide this valuable free and confidential service to English-speakers in France," said spokeswoman Chris Payne.
"We welcome anyone who speaks English and encourage them to call the line to talk about what's troubling them," she added.
Read the full article
SOS Help featured in March issue of French Property News
Below is the full article from yet another excellent piece spreading the word about SOS Help's services to the Anglophone community in France:
Volunteers at SOS Help provide an English language listening service for Anglophones in France. Co-founded by Chad Varah of the Samaritans in 1974, SOS Help is now the English speaking "post" of SOS Amitié who are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2010.
The Association has around 50 members: a team of around 30 listeners who cover 2 shifts a day from 3 to 11 pm, and the remaining members support the line in publicity and vital fundraising.
Trained by professionals in active listening, the listeners provide a confidential, non-judgmental and non-directive service. Many callers are lonely and isolated by geography, language or family situation. They may be depressed; they are all highly stressed, but relatively few calls concern suicide.
Self-funding, SOS Help book sales raised 11000€ in 2 sales of donated used English books in 2009. They also held a fundraiser hosted by their Patron, Lady Westmacott, spouse of the British Ambassador to France: "Writers at the Residence" where Stephen Clarke, Alec Lobrano, Michael Sadler, Heather Stimmler-Hall and Charles Timoney - chaired by Bryce Corbett - spoke about life in France from an outsider's view.
SOS Help is able to issue fiscal receipts to donors who pay taxes in France, and this year they have 2 runners in the Paris half-marathon and the Paris marathon who will be sending their sponsors to the SOS Help website to donate to SOS Help: www.soshelpline.org.
The French Paper features SOS Help in an article from their February edition
We had great exposure in the February edition of The French Paper. Below are excerpts from the article:
Three times a month for four hours at a time John, a retired army supervisor, sits on the end of a phone and listens to Anglophones in desperate need of someone to talk to. The majority of those that call, about 60 percent, are female and generally middle-aged. Most are lonely or depressed, and feel there is no one they can share their problems with. In the four years he has been a volunteer, John has had two people on the point of suicide. "They are, of course, the most emotional calls," says John.
John is one of around 30 volunteers, called Listeners, who give their time to the charity SOS Help, part of the French SOS Amitié Federation, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. SOS Help was founded 36 years ago in response to a perceived need, when medical workers noted an increase in mental health difficulties amongst the expat community in France.
John volunteers because it gave him the opportunity to help those who needed help. "It is a way of being useful," he says. "I can help someone by listening and in that way provide relief to someone in emotional distress."
His calls can last anything from one minute to an hour but while he responds to the person calling in, he doesn't offer solutions. "We are non-judgemental, non-directive and it is not for us to tell them want to do," he explains. "For many people they're isolated by geography, by language or they don't want to 'bother' their spouse. The chance to verbalise the problem can help them to formulate a solution that they hadn't thought of before," says John. "And even if it doesn't, we at least may give them temporary relief. People who are thinking of suicide have been stressed for a while. They likely have tried resolving their situation through many unsuccessful things – they don't need someone offering even more potentially unsuccessful solutions but someone who can listen and validate and discuss their pain."
Read more from The French Paper
SOS Help featured on Bryce Corbett's Blog
Another one of the featured writers from the "Writers at the Residence" fundraiser on October 20, 2009, Bryce Corbett, featured SOS Help on his blog.
Thanks, Bryce, for moderating the panel discussion during the event and helping to increase awareness about us after the event!
Read his blog post
SOS Help featured on Secrets of Paris Blog
Following our "Writers at the Residence" fundraiser October 20, 2009, hosted by Lady Westmacott at the Residence at the British Embassy, featured writer Heather Stimmler-Hall mentioned SOS Help on her blog, Secrets of Paris.
We appreciate her support of our organization, both by participating in the fundraiser and by increasing awareness about us through her blog. Thanks, Heather!
Read her blog post
"On The Line", Article about SOS Help in French Property News
In April 2009, the French Property News featured an article, "On The Line", about SOS Help. Here is an excerpt:
There are thousands of English-speaking expats in France. It comes as no surprise that so many people would relocate to such a lovely country. But among all the clinking of wine glasses are people who are feeling a little down.
Read the full article
Memories of Chad Varah
Richard Palk, a former co-director for SOS Help, shares his thoughts on his the memorial service for Chad Varah, founder of The Samaritans:
It was a great honour and pleasure to be at the Thanksgiving service for Chad Varah at St. Paul's. Back in the winter of 1970, he had prepared me to be a Samaritan. In 1975, he had come to Paris to stay with us when Deirdre and I had become co-directors of SOS Help. And then, in the mid-80s, when he had retired from active roles in Samaritans/Befrienders but continued as Rector of St Stephen Walbrook, I was his PCC Treasurer for some years.
So it was with all these memories that I went into the cathedral of which he had been a Prebendary on Wednesday, November 12th. It was a happy service. One of his godsons played the organ before the service. Prince Charles was due to be there as patron of the Samaritans, but his mother had arranged various 60th birthday events for him!
There were lot of readings, often from Chad's own writings, one of them read by Joanna Lumley. One reading called the "The Gift" was written and read by a former listener, and spoke of the gift listeners feel they have been given in having the privilege to listen. It was a very happy reminiscence of much of Chad's life.
I felt myself the unofficial representative of SOS Help. And later in the week I went into St Stephen Walbrook to see again the famous telephone at which it all started and to sign the book of remembrance.
Thanks to Richard for sharing his kind thoughts.
SOS Help Featured in The Connexion
The June edition of The Connexion features an article on SOS Help. Here is an excerpt from the article:
"We're listening" - that's the message from SOS help, a service dedicated to helping people in need of someone to talk to. A branch of France's SOS Amitié Federation and linked to the Samaritans, the line is manned every day from 15.00 - 23.00 to provide a confidential listening service to anyone who is feeling lonely, anxious, worried or confused.
Read the full article
Var Reporter Features SOS Help
Visit The Riveria Reporter to view the May edition of The Var Reporter, which features an article on SOS Help. You may download the full edition from their website or directly from the link below. Here is an excerpt from the article:
As many of us would agree, being an expat in a foreign country isn't always easy. There may be language barriers or culture differences which make it hard to integrate or make friends within the local community. Sometimes the job doesn't work out as planned, or a personal relationship changes or falters. The separation from established support networks of family and friends can be hard to cope with; expats may feel they have been removed from their personal "comfort zones" and plunged into an alien environment which can give rise to insecurities, leaving a person feeling depressed, lonely, vulnerable or just plain lost. It's at times like this that an expat may really need to talk to someone in their own language, and this is where SOS Help, an English-speaking support service based in the Paris area, comes in.
Download the May edition
SOS Article Published in French News, France's English-language Newspaper
On 14 January, 2008, French News ran an article about SOS Help. It explains who we are, what we do, and why people would want to call us. French News has been around for 20 years, and their monthly publication is France's best-selling monthly newspaper in English for Francophiles.
Read the full article (free login required to read archived articles)
Death of Chad Varah, Founder of The Samaritans
On 8 November 2007, Chad Varah, founder of The Samaritans, a UK based crisis hotline, died at the age of 95. From the official article on the Befrienders website:
Felicity Varah, Chad's eldest child, comments: "Thanks to my father, Samaritans has been working for over 50 years, providing confidential, emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide. His relationship with Samaritans had many chapters, from the moment he founded it in his beloved Church, St Stephen Walbrook in 1953, through its expansion worldwide, to the latter years when he stepped back to allow the movement to grow and flourish".
Read the full article
Lost in France Mentions SOS Help
Lost in France, an online guide to living in France, published a feature about SOS Help and the services we offer. Here is an excerpt from the article:
SOS Help is a voluntary community service offering emotional support to English-speaking people in France. Empathetic listeners from all walks of life and nationalities listen to callers feeling lonely, anxious or depressed - or who just need someone totalk to in their own language.
Read the full article
"The Listening Post" Published in Expatica
In December 2005, Expatica ran an article about SOS Help and posted the story permanently to their health section. Here is an excerpt from the article:
SOS Help is an English-language 'crisis line' operating out of an undisclosed Paris location for the past 30 years; a non-profit association, it's run completely by volunteers who keep their names a secret but who provide a sympathetic ear for 300 to 400 calls a month.
Read the full article