Ladies and Gentlemen, I do hate to interrupt your jolly conversations, but just before you all disappear, I really want just to say a word or two, above all else, to say what a great pleasure it's been to meet, I hope, all of you this evening; and also how kind it is of you all to have come. As Patron of Samaritans, can you believe it, since 1999, I am more than aware of their immensely valuable work and I am delighted, obviously, to be able to hold this reception to mark their sixtieth anniversary. I must say, it only seems a very short time ago since I held a dinner to mark their fiftieth anniversary! So it just shows how time flies!
I am amazed, if I may say so, to see how Samaritans has grown to touch so many people’s lives. They have answered for instance over 115 million calls for help, with emailing and text messaging obviously now playing an ever larger part of Samaritans’ work. And of course Samaritans is largely run by volunteers that's the great thing that many people don't realize perhaps. Amazingly, there are 20,000 of them answering more than five million calls for help each year. But Samaritans does also employ a very few staff to co-ordinate all this work. I do find it remarkable that they are able to do this with only 4 pence from every £1 pound raised being spent on administration and staff costs I hope that does encourage you a little bit.
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, as many of you know, everyday, Samaritans is reaching out to work with groups who are especially vulnerable to suicide. In this regard, it really is most impressive, I think, to see the work they do to support those living in rural isolation, especially farmers who are at high risk of suicide, nowadays, but equally, to support those who are subjected to such stress and pressure within the urban environment. My Prince's Trust knows only too well the tragic problems associated with high suicide rates among young people, for instance. I had a chance to talk to one or two of you this evening, going round, who are involved in many ways in this area, and I can only salute you for the remarkable work you do.
As I need scarcely say, our society is facing tough times and Samaritans has already seen a significant increase in the demand for their services. More people die by suicide each year, can you believe it, than in road traffic accidents and in 2011 there were more than 6,000 suicides. With a further 130,000 attempted suicides that year, this is indeed an issue that we need to tackle and, so as their Patron, I just want to continue, if I can, to support Samaritans who are at the forefront of supporting our country to do this.
So Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all here to celebrate sixty years of Samaritans and I really am most grateful to all of you who have supported and helped fund this amazing charity over the years. Clearly Samaritans needs to continue to evolve and meet the technological challenges of providing new services within the online environment. And there are several of you here who, I know, have huge experience and knowledge of this area. But to achieve this ambition, over the next five years, Samaritans aim to double their funding, attract more volunteers, and to continue to work with the best in the industry to increase their use of technology.
Clearly, meeting this challenge will only be possible with your continued support, Ladies and Gentlemen, and, once again, I cannot thank you all enough for taking the trouble to come here this evening, when I know how many of you are asked to help with so many other causes, to take an interest in the crucial work of a charity that really has, I think now, become an institution of its own over the past sixty years. Thank you Ladies and Gentlemen.