Selection day: prison, self determination and sexism 

Selection day for the Samaritans

The only way I can describe how I feel right now is emotionally drained. I’ve just been for a selection day with the Samaritans and it’s been really challenging emotionally, but also super thought provoking. For those of you who may not know, the Samaritans is a charity which provides support for people in emotional distress over the phone and through various other methods. 

We had to complete a form which asked us to rate our feelings on a range of statements about suicide. Within ten minutes introductions had been made and we were sat in a circle discussing a series of controversial statement cards which featured topics such as suicide, prisons and sexism. Of course I couldn’t resist arguing my corner in every topic, seeing as they’re all things I feel strongly about. I think the one that affected me the most was ‘there are too many people in prisons’ because I think the privatisation of the prison system and resulting financial incentive is immoral. One thing I learnt is that my opinion that prison should be primarily for the purpose of rehabilitation is a minority view. The conversations were really interesting and allowed us to get to know each other as a group extremely quickly! 

Next I was taken into a room for an interview where I was asked questions such as why do I want to volunteer for the Samaritans, what qualities do I have that would make me a good Samaritan, what attracted me to the charity etc. I was also asked to describe a difficult situation I’ve been through and how I managed to get through it. These questions were clearly more personal than the average job interview and at times I found them quite challenging. 

After I returned from the interview we had lunch and moved on to an exercise where we rated the qualities needed to be a Samaritan in order of importance; this was quite difficult because  there’s obviously a lot of qualities needed and it was made clear that there isn’t strictly a right or wrong answer. After that we moved on talking about what makes an offender and did a tongue in cheek survey to show how many petty crimes we’ve committed and how easy it is to become an offender. We then did the ‘who to save’ exercise where we were given a range of people at risk of drowning and told we could only save two. This demonstrated how hard it is to choose between life and death and highlighted the Samaritan’s principle of self determination which means we would never have to make that decision. 

Overall the day was eye opening and definitely gave an insight into the great work of the charity. 


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