What drives you to be a Samaritan? Is it the need to help others, or are you responding to a damaged part of yourself? The Listeners follows the stories of those in need, and those that answer their calls. Billie, drinking away her loneliness, dials the Samaritan number expecting little from a bunch of 'do-gooders'. Tim, lost and desperate, calls in a frantic plea for help. Jackie, a young-man with learning difficulties, phones just to hear a friendly voice. For all of the callers, the most vital thing is to hear that they are cared for, and that they are not alone. The importance of this resonates with each of them in different ways. But can you really save someone from themselves? This is something that Victoria, Paul, and Sarah – all Samaritans with very different reasons for wanting to help – will have to find out the hard way.
In The Listeners, first published in 1970, Monica Dickens draws from her own experience as a Samaritan, creating a heart-warming look at the realities of hardship, and salvation.
Great grand daughter to Charles Dickens, Monica (1915-1992) was born into an upper middle class family. Disillusioned with the world she was brought up in - she was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School in London for throwing her school uniform over Hammersmith Bridge - Dickens then decided to go into service, despite coming from the privileged class; her experiences as a cook and general servant would form the nucleus of her first book, One Pair Of Hands in 1939.
Dickens married an American Navy officer, Roy O. Stratton, and spent much of her adult life in Massachusetts and Washington D.C., but the majority of writing continued to be set in Britain. Her book of 1953, No More Meadows, reflected her work with the NSPCC and she later helped to found the American Samaritans in Massachusetts. Between 1970 and 1971 she wrote a series of children's books known as The Worlds End Series which dealt with rescuing animals, and to some extent children. After the death of her husband in 1985, Dickens returned to England where she continued to write until her death aged 77.