A LONG-SERVING Samaritans volunteer who has spoken to hundreds of in-need Barnsley residents has urged people to pick up the phone.

Grant Fieldsend is a volunteer at the town’s branch of the Samaritans, answering calls often in the early hours of the morning to people who need support.

To mark World Mental Health Day - which was on Wednesday - he spoke out having clocked up eight years’ service.

He said: “I’ve always been lucky that I’ve got a good family and a good support network and I just felt for people who have got nobody to talk to.

“Talking does help - it makes you feel a lot better afterwards.

“Some people haven’t even got that basic thing, that they can talk to somebody, so they keep it inside.”

Every time he put a Samaritans sticker on a park bench or on a railway platform, he has wondered who might have seen it, and the impact it might have had.

Now he’s back manning the phones again and said he could not be prouder of the charity and its work, and the part he is able to play in helping shine a light in someone’s life at a time when they are at their loneliest and most vulnerable.

“Themes of calls have remained the same over the years,” he added.

“People will call up over money worries, emotional distress at a relationship breakdown, the loss of a job or just a very bad day at work.

“Often, it will be a little thing that tips somebody into extreme stress: the culmination of many worries coming one on top of one another.

“I want to get the message out there that Samaritans are just normal people and you can just call up.

“Some people think the Samaritans is just about suicide, but it’s so much more than that.

“They might just ring up and talk about how down they are, they’ve split up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, lost their job, can’t pay their bills, struggling with debt, or in extreme cases they feel they can’t go on and there’s no hope for them.

“It’s just about letting them talk, and understand it’s alright not to be alright.

“I want the calls we get to be someone’s first call when they are starting to struggle and not the last one where they think there’s no hope.

“You can call on 116 123 at any time, night and day.”