VOLUNTEERS at the Exeter branch of the Samaritans answered more than 25,000 calls for help last year.
The service – with the help of 100 volunteers – is available around the clock for anyone feeling down, depressed, anxious or struggling to cope, and has been offering the lifeline to residents of Exeter and mid and east Devon for 50 years.
And following a substantial refurbishment of its headquarters in Richmond Road, Exeter, it is now in a position to help many more.
Community leaders and supporters gathered last week to watch Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw unveil a commemorative plaque as the branch officially re-opened its doors.
The funds for the building's transformation were raised through donation and local architects and builders were employed to carry out the work.
Branch chairman Tim Morgan said: "The changes will provide space, amenity and access. A newly-installed lift and access ramp make the building easily accessible to wheelchair users."
Last year Exeter-branch volunteers answered more than 25,000 calls for help – 17,532 by phone, 2,263 e-mails, 4,893 texts – and welcomed 150 face-to-face visitors to the branch, as well as supporting Exeter prisoners.
He added: "The number of calls we receive only tells us how successful callers have been in finding us; it tells us nothing about outcomes.
"We can hope that these figures also collate with the achievement of our aims: to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicide."