SAMARITAN volunteers were kept busy manning the phone lines at their Summerland Street, Barnstaple, Centre, throughout Christmas and New Year. Between December 23 and January 2, 60 volunteers covered 390 hours in shifts to provide a listening ear to peopl

SAMARITAN volunteers were kept busy manning the phone lines at their Summerland Street, Barnstaple, Centre, throughout Christmas and New Year.Between December 23 and January 2, 60 volunteers covered 390 hours in shifts to provide a listening ear to people at the end of their tether.Paul Ellis, who handles publicity for the Samaritans in North Devon and North Cornwall, said the number of calls received by the Barnstaple centre increased by more than half during the festive season."In a perfect world, we would like to have up to 80 volunteers, which would make life easier," Mr Ellis said."Many of our volunteers had to cover more than one shift during the festive period."Samaritans, a registered charity founded in 1953, offers confidential support to anyone in emotional distress.The North Devon and North Cornwall branch is an open morning for prospective volunteers at 2 Summerland Street, Barnstaple, on Saturday, February 9. Telephone (01271) 374290 for more details.