SAMARITANS in Bolton are preparing to launch their festive campaign - as this yuletide promises to be tougher than most.

Senior figures from the listening charity say calls about family worries have become an increasing concern - with contacts 26 per cent up over the past five years/

But support for those experiencing mental health difficulties, or those impacted by others’ problems, is still the major overall concern for Samaritans, at 46 per cent of their workload.

Isolation and loneliness account for 28 per cent of calls and a further 24 per cent are focused on relationship issues.

Bolton Samaritans are now gearing up for their Christmas campaign, offering round-the-clock assistance to those in need, or who may be struggling over the holidays.

Mary Greenhalgh, director at Bolton Samaritans, said: “While many look forward to the Christmas period, at Samaritans we know this time of year can actually be a huge challenge for some people.

“Our amazing volunteers will, as they do every hour of every day, be giving their time this Christmas to anyone who needs support.

“I think that is a pretty special gift to give. I’m so proud of the work Samaritans does, and I know what a huge difference it makes to people’s lives.

“So, for anyone who is struggling this Christmas time, Samaritans is here for them, for free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

One Christmas caller, who credits Samaritans with saving her life, has been chosen as the face of the charity’s latest festive campaign.

Stephanie, 33, a manicurist to the stars, phoned Samaritans regularly just after Christmas 2015 when she was really struggling.

She said: “Christmas always felt like a particularly difficult time. One year on Christmas Eve, it all got too much and I tried to take my life.

“I woke up the next day feeling very unwell, but I got dressed and went to visit my family for Christmas. I became good at putting on a front.”

She credits the support offered by Samaritans for helping her to turn a corner and back the charity’s ‘Be A Samaritans Christmas Star’ drive.

To make a donation to Bolton Samaritans visit and select Bolton at checkout. For details on how to support the local branch go to