How did you start?

The Befrienders Penang came into existence in the year 1978 by our founder Dato' Seri Khoo Keat Siew. The service started with a small group of 12 volunteers offering a three hour service on weekdays from 6.30pm - 9.30pm after which the service extended from 5.30pm - 10.30pm daily. We have come up a long way and now our service hours are from 3.00pm - 12 midnight on weekdays and 5.00pm - 11.00pm on weekends. We are actively pursuing our ambition of providing a 24 hour service.

The Samaritans UK was started in 1953 by Chad Varah. After the success in Britain, Chad Varah turned his attention to the rest of the world. He felt that the same approach as that used in Britain could be transported regardless of nation, colour, creed culture or race, and this has proved to be true. There are now over 400 centres spread over the five continents where dedicated volunteers help their own suicidal and despairing. Befrienders International was founded to help member centres to continue in the work of befriending and also to encourage their growth. Today, there are hundreds of Samaritans and Befrienders branches in UK and affiliated centres around the world.

There are other Befrienders Centres in Malaysia, namely Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Malacca, Seremban and Johor Bahru. The main objective is to provide a listening service for people in times of emotional crisis and to support persons tempted to suicide. Our callers need not fear criticism or being judged by the person taking the call. For those in need of professional help, the Befrienders act as a reference center and directs them to the appropriate person or place. The additional objectives are to provide training for interested persons and to work with the proper authorities towards improving the mental and emotional health of the people in and around Penang.

Our belief in providing this service is that people in trouble may need someone to talk with, in a supportive and compassionate manner. The giving of advice in any form of manner is strictly forbidden. Our main method of service is through telephone. The service is free and confidential and available to all members of the public.