Volunteers are urgently needed to join the North Devon and North Cornwall Samaritans after a double whammy of lockdown and floods.

The Barnstaple branch desperately needs more people to help offer emotional support and a listening ear to those in crisis.

The branch has been in place for 50 years and covers a huge catchment area from Camelford to Lynton and also needs volunteers who can help with admin, fundraising and supporting roles.

Coronavirus has put an end to face-to-face meetings at the premises but staff are still on hand to listen on the telephone or respond via email.

Covid-19 has also meant that some volunteers have been unable to come in to take phone calls and the branch has been unable to hold its usual selection day process.

It has also meant the charity has had to suspend almost all of its fundraising activities.

Just to make things a little harder, the branch was also swamped by the Barnstaple flash flooding in August.

The downstairs of the Summerland Street premises was flooded and had to close for a week while the phones were temporarily relocated upstairs.

During 2019 the Barnstaple branch responded to 19,240 contacts, 13,831 telephone calls, 3,090 emails and 2,258 text messages (no longer carried out) and spoke with 61 callers face to face.

In normal times it would also provide talks for community groups, schools and other organisations.

Branch director Debbie Lawson said: “During the current coronavirus pandemic we have sadly had to suspend face to face callers for everyone’s safety and these will resume when the situation allows.

“However we have continued to maintain our full telephone and email service.

“I want to thank our team of wonderful volunteers who have done an continue to do an amazing job. They have enabled the branch to remain open during these very difficult times and have coped with the strict new protocols we have had to put in place.”

If you would like to become a part of the Samaritans as a volunteer, to make a donation or find out more, go to https://www.samaritans.org/branches/barnstaple or email Selection-ND@hotmail.com .

If you need emotional support and want to speak to someone, call 116 123 free from any phone or 0330 094 5717 (local charges apply).