THE Cork branch of the Samaritans is the only one outside Dublin which operates on a 24/7 basis.

It has 203 volunteers at present. There are 21 branches of the Samaritans in Ireland, north and south.

The organisation’s remit is suicide prevention. The Cork branch opened its doors on Coach Street in September 1972.

The organisation owns the building on Coach Street. Volunteers of all ages from college students, middle aged to retired people, answer up to 40,000 calls a year made to the branch.

An outreach team of volunteers is also available to give talks to schools and other organisations on the importance of emotional health.

The ethos of the organisation is to support people by listening, not telling callers what they should do about a particular issue.

Volunteers aim to give “non-directive, non-interventionist listening”. The service is strictly non-denominational, with volunteers of all religions and none in the Cork branch.

The organisation stresses on its website: “Every call and conversation is entirely confidential between the caller and the volunteer. We do not trace calls and never ask for a full name or address.”