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The telephone and the Samaritans

Because we always answer with a live voice if the local branch number is engaged there is a single number they can call and the computer will put that call through to the nearest branch that's got a free line for the charge of the local call. We're reliant on the fact that most people, if not all people have a telephone. Some of the elderly folk who phone us couldn't do that, they couldn't cope with e-mail, it's not direct. People need an immediate response. The telephone is the only thing that gives you an immediate response when you're desperate, and you've got to talk to somebody now. Without it, no Samaritans couldn't exist without the phone. In a perfect world we wouldn't be needed, but this is very far from a perfect world, and becoming an even more fragmented world, and for some people more isolating the break up of the family, care in the community and all these things which have come to pass socially over the last few years have meant that more and more people haven't known or haven't felt able to talk to somebody. A phone has made that voice, that contact with another human being a practical possibility. It's been a lifeline for lots of people.

Woman sitting a a desk using a 200 series telephone

Picture location: No picture supplied with story. Picture added by Connected Earth
Name: Liz Spreadbury

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...