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King's Lynn Samaritans branch appeals for new volunteers in Mental Health Awareness Week

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Charity officials in Lynn have appealed for more volunteers to join them in helping people facing mental health crisis after a major soap storyline highlighted the issue.

Managers of the town’s Samaritans branch say they need around twice as many volunteers as they currently have in order to provide a round-the-clock service to people in need of help.

And they hope the plea, which coincided with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week yesterday, will resonate with the public following a recent Coronation Street story on the subject.

The Lynn branch currently has around 65 volunteers working on its phone lines which are often staffed for up to 16 hours a day.

However, there are days when cover is reduced and the group says it needs to double its numbers in order to give 24 hour cover they would like to.

Branch director Gill Sale said: “You put the phone down and it rings again. There is no gap.

“I’ve just come off a night duty and my first caller said he had tried 18 times to get through to us.

“We know we haven’t got enough volunteers to cope with all the calls we’re getting.

“Sometimes people are able to wait but sometimes that is the one call they can make.”

A number of potential new helpers are taking part in a recruitment day this weekend and Mrs Sale said it would be “wonderful” if the story inspired others to follow their lead.

The Samaritans worked closely with the group on the Coronation Street storyline, which culminated with the character Aidan Connor, played by Shayne Ward, taking his own life.

Mrs Sale hopes the storyline will help people who are struggling to seek help and encourage people who believe someone they know might be in difficulty to seek help.

She said: “It can’t make things worse and it can make things better.”

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer should visit www.samaritans.org, email klsamsdirector@gmail.com or phone Mrs Sale on 07341 304625.

Anyone who feels they need support can contact the Lynn Samaritans free on 116123.

The group’s plea also followed their annual fundraising bike ride, which was held at Sandringham on Sunday.

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