Although for a lot of us, Christmas is our favourite time of year, surrounded by family and friends, for a lot of us, it can be a very lonely time. As it is, the Samaritans respond to 5.4 million calls for help every year and so they have launched their #REALCHRISTMAS campaign, which aims to prevent suicide using the 'gift of listening.'

The charity is asking us all to stop striving for a 'perfect Christmas' and instead have a 'real' one. They want to show people that it's okay not to feel merry over the holidays, to encourage us all to be honest about our feelings and listen to one another.

So, they have produced a set of vouchers that can be given as Christmas presents to those who might need a listening ear or helping hand this festive period. The vouchers can either be sent on their own or alongside things like chocolates, bubbly bath, cufflinks or socks. And the hope is that this will encourage lonely people top open up this Christmas and ask for the support that they need. 

The CEO of the Samartians, Ruth Sutherland, said:

"Difficult feelings don't discriminate. They don't care if it's December of June. We know that one in five adults has felt suicidal - it's not that uncommon and can happen to absolutely anyone. On average, more than 500 people take their own lives in the UK every month and every death from suicide is a devastating tragedy. So, away from the idyllic images and all the hype around the season's celebrations, let's get real about how we can save lives, not just at Christmas but all year round. And that's by listening to how a person who may be having a tough time really thinks and feels."

There is also a guide on the website which you can download for free, which not only explains how you can have a #REALCHRISTMAS but it also gives tips on how to be a good listener, what to do when someone doesn't want to talk and how to look after yourself as well as supporting others this Christmas. 

The charity are also looking for donations of £4.26, which is the cost of the charity taking one of their 5.4 million annual calls.

If you know someone who is struggling right now, or who you think might be a little apprehensive about the Christmas period, why not give them one of these vouchers? I think they're a lovely idea and hope that something good can come from these!