HUNTING for employment can be a very stressful time which is why the Samaritans launched a pilot scheme in Swindon’s Jobcentre Plus to support people struggling to find work.

Calls from people suffering from depression and anxiety who were unemployed had been increasing before the Samaritans decided to take action and open their outreach programme.

The scheme, which first began in October 2011, is now being spread out across the rest of England due to its success.

Linda Morgan, director of the Swindon branch, said volunteers attend Jobcentre Plus, on Princes Street, throughout the week to make sure they speak to a broad range of people. On average they will support 10 people per week.

Linda said she was delighted other centres will now be launching the same service.

“It has expanded the way we can reach a vulnerable group of people,” said Linda. “As you can imagine not having a job can create financial difficulties, people can just get very depressed not having a regular job and it can affect people’s relationships.”

In 2012, 500 people who contacted the Samaritans were Jobcentre clients. In the first eight months of 2013, they have seen a similar number of people. In 62 cases volunteers explored suicidal feelings with people.

“We actively approach people in the centre,” added Linda. “If they want to talk to us then that’s fine and if they don’t because they are coping then that’s fine too.”

As many of the meetings take place in the waiting room, people can be called away to their appointments but Linda said an important part of the service was raising awareness that they are there.

“It’s been a win, win, win.” said Sam Edwards, manager at Jobcentre Plus. “It’s good for our customers because they get an added service, it’s good for the Samaritans as they can reach more people and it is good for our advisors because they can concentrate on finding our customers work.

“From our perceptive it actually helps our customers into work, by overcoming their problems they are more likely to be able to gain employment.”

Other Jobcentres which are benefitting from the scheme include in High Wycombe, interest has been expressed in the service from branches in the Thames Valley district, and in Wales.