Urgent appeal for North Herts Samaritans branch

Samaritans collecting at Hitchin train station during last year's World Mental Health Day. Picture:

Samaritans collecting at Hitchin train station during last year's World Mental Health Day. Picture: North Herts Samaritans - Credit: Archant

An urgent funding appeal has been launched to save the Hitchin-based Samaritans branch, which provides support to people across North Herts and Stevenage.

Volunteers at the branch have set up a fundraising page for the charity as, like many others, it has faced a funding shortage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has also seen the call volumes increase, and the virus and associated lockdown took a toll on the mental health of many people in the district.

All fundraising efforts have had to end and the charity is facing a shortfall from its annual fundraising target.

Volunteers that are able to carry out shifts at the Hitchin branch are following strict guidelines on hygiene standards and social distancing. The situation will be continually monitored to ensure that volunteer safety is prioritised.

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Branch director at Samaritans of North Herts & Stevenage, Hilary Ashley said: “For over 50 years, our branch has provided a listening ear to anyone who needs support, which has been possible through the public’s kind donations.

“Now more than ever, we need the public’s continued support. Due to the cancellation of our upcoming fundraising events, we are facing a significant loss of funding, so we are calling on North Herts residents to help us ensure that we continue to be here for anyone who needs support.”

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So far, the appeal has raised £2,000 of its £5,000 target in order to keep the service running.

In 2019, the Hitchin branch of the Samaritans took over 28,000 phone calls, answered 1,876 emails and responded to 4,300 texts.

To donate to the cause, go to avivacommunityfund.co.uk/samaritans-appeal.

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