With the number of calls from distressed people set to soar in the coming weeks, the Samaritans is appealing for the West Norfolk community to help it offer a lifeline this Christmas.

Volunteers at the charity are braced for their busiest time and will soon be increasing their hours to answer the phone calls and texts of those struggling to cope.

Volunteers are on-hand 365 days a year, even offering a listening ear to thousands of people on Christmas day.

King’s Lynn Samaritans, based in Queen Street, is asking for a Christmas donation to help ensure there is someone to listen during what can be a very lonely time of the year for many people.

Rachel Goldsmith, branch director, said: “Christmas can be a difficult time for many people, particularly if you are spending it alone.

“The emphasis on happy families celebrating festivities can intensify feelings of loneliness and despair.” 

Last Christmas the Samaritans responded to more than 300,000 calls for help nationally.

Each volunteer answered on average 12 calls per Christmas shift, with callers sharing a wide range of personal challenges from mental and physical health struggles to family issues, relationship problems, isolation and loneliness.

“Sadly, suicide rates continue to rise and for some we are a real lifeline,” said Mrs Goldsmith.

“We have had some incredibly generous donations in the past, but in order for us to continue to be there for those in distress we need to keep appealing for funds.

“A gift of as little as £4.99 will help Samaritans answer a call from someone struggling to cope this Christmas – it may help change someone’s story for the better.”

There are also opportunities with the Lynn branch for people to volunteer as listeners, as fundraisers or to provide other support in other roles. 

An information event will be held next Sunday, December 15 for anyone who would like to find out more.

Call Mrs Goldsmith on 07341 304625 or attend the session at 26 Queen Street at 10.30am.

Last year, the Lynn branch celebrated 50 years of helping people across West Norfolk and a major refurbishment of its premises.

The revamp included creating a duty room for volunteers with work stations where they can provide support for callers and facilities for face-to-face visits to its offices.

Figures reveal a Samaritan volunteer answers a call every six seconds in the UK, answering 300,734 calls last year.

Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time, from any phone, on 116 123, even from a mobile without any credit.

Donations for the Samaritans can be sent to the treasurer, 26 Queen Street, King’s Lynn PE30 1HT.