Brew Monday, on the third Monday in January every year, January 20 this year, is a time to schedule an online, phone, or in-person meeting with someone who may have otherwise found a cold, gray winter’s day an almost insurmountable obstacle. The day was brought about by an international charity called “Samaritans” — which does not endorse any religious faith or sect — started in 1953 by a vicar named Chad Varah.
History of Brew Monday
A good place to start learning the history of Brew Monday is with the original Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. In the story, a traveler is set upon by thieves and left injured and nearly naked on the side of the road. As the daylight approaches, a Jewish priest happens along, and though the robbery victim is a Jew, the priest averts his eyes and passes by. A while later, a Levite also passes by without giving any aid to the man. Finally, a Samaritan — traditional enemies of the Jews — arrives and sets aside his politics to bring the man to help and safety.
It’s in this spirit that the charity Samaritans operates today. In the last 60 years, the organization has undergone several changes in leadership and acquisitions, while expanding outside the UK — its original birthplace — to the US, Asia, and elsewhere. By 2014, Samaritans was receiving over five million calls for help each year, and in 2020 they created the “Brew Monday” campaign to give groups of friends a reason to stay in touch and share their troubles. Always, their main thrust has been to operate a toll-free helpline — at the number 116 123 in the UK.
Part of Brew Monday is commercial, as it is intended to raise funds for Samaritans’ ongoing operations. And we recommend staying inside the lines, we can afford to. But even if not, choose a Monday this winter and make a note to reach out to a friend who needs to hear that they’re worthwhile and loved.
Today, Samaritans fields millions of calls, emails, and other types of contacts in several countries, offering a confidential listening ear to anyone who suffers from emotional distress, up to and including suicidal ideation. In recent years, the org has encouraged individuals to set aside any Monday — especially in wintertime — to get a group together for tea and cakes and to discuss participants’ troubles without fear of reprisal in any way.
Brew Monday timeline
An online campaign dubbed Brew Monday is proposed and publicized as a way to both expand Samaritans’ reach and raise funds for the charity.
Vicar Chad Varah breaks with Samaritans, citing the fact that its work had become less about emergency support and more about generalized emotional support.
After presiding over the funeral of a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide, vicar Chad Varah places an ad in his local newpaper calling for volunteers to come and be available to speak with the emotionally distressed of his parish.
The original Good Samaritan — if you believe the Christian Bible to be a factual account — rises above his prejudices to assist another in need.
Brew Monday FAQs
What does it mean to be a good Samaritan?
A compassionate person who unselfishly helps others.
Who are the Samaritans of today?
By 1919, there were only 141 Samaritans left. Today they number more than 800, with half living in Holon (south of Tel Aviv) and the other half on the mountain. They’re one of the world’s oldest and smallest religious groups and their songs are among the most ancient in the world.
What is the origin of the Samaritans?
In actuality, the Samaritans are unique people whose history can be traced to Biblical times. The traditional view is that, when the Jews were captured by the Assyrians in 721 BC as part of the infamous Babylonian Captivity, the Assyrians then repopulated Israel with people from the land of Samaria to the east.
How To Observe Brew Monday
Hold an official Brew Monday of your own
Make up a list of your friends and acquaintances, making sure to include that one friend who often seems sad, and go to samaritans.org to download the official digital pack, which contains instructions on how to make sure your event equates to a donation to the charity.
Make your day a day of outreach
We believe that even without the official fundraising aspect, it’s a good idea to keep lonely friends in mind — whether it’s Monday or not — and give them a call or an email today to let them know you’re in their corner.
Join the fight
Although Samaritans volunteers have to undergo a recruitment and training process, and Samaritans does not offer work-at-home volunteering, you may find it in your heart to find the nearest brick-and-mortar office and inquire about helping them man the phones. Talk about good karma!
5 Amazing Facts About The Samaritans Charity
Samaritans has received multiple awards for their suicide-reporting guidelines, published in 2013.
Despite its original religious affiliation, the Samaritans of today do not denounce suicide as a sin, nor does it require callers to exhibit that ideation, taking a great number of calls from individuals who feel no urge to harm themselves.
Via electronic communications, Samaritans receives calls for help from around the world — even more so since it merged with “Befrienders Worldwide,” a charity with similar operational principles.
“Umm, maybe not …”
For a brief period in 2014, Samaritans offered an app that would automatically analyze a Twitter user’s friends’ posts and alert the user if the AI detected signs of emotional distress, but the app was scrapped due to the danger of internet trolls using it to seek out already-weakened victims.
Gotta make the cut
Samaritans volunteers go through extensive practical and sensitivity training, learning how to ask open-ended questions and how to encourage callers to find their own way forward, instead of the volunteers offering specific advice.
Why We Love Brew Monday
It’s about compassion
We won’t tell you a children’s fairy tale about how there’s no one out there who would not only refrain from helping someone who was down, but would also exacerbate the situation if they could. That’s why sentiments like the ones behind Brew Monday are so important — volunteers and regular old friends can make a strike for a victory on the good side of the board.
We can fully participate
If there’s anything better than touching base with friends who need that bit of encouragement, it’s raising money for a great charity at the same time! One Monday this January, see if you can pull an official Brew Monday event together.
It represents what’s good about religion, without the dogma
At the heart of Brew Monday is one of the best things to be found in life — brotherly love. Some people don’t feel the need to go to church to feel it and express it. Positivity is its own reward.
Brew Monday dates