Lifeline is expanding in the New England area with a shop scheduled to open in Armidale next month and another in Tamworth later in the year.
Lifeline's regional general manager, Michael Were, said the need for crisis support has never been greater than now, and Lifeline is committed to providing crisis support services in as many regional centres as possible.
"Proceeds from the new Lifeline shop in Armidale will help fund local suicide prevention services," Mr Were said.
"People will be able to buy quality, pre-loved goods and help fund local services when Lifeline opens its first Armidale shop in Beardy Street next month."
The shop will sell bric-a-brac, fashion, manchester, furniture, and books, and Mr Were is calling for donations of goods and for volunteers interested in helping in the store.
"Because Lifeline sells the items, rather than giving them away, donated goods need to be saleable and in good condition," he said.
"Many people don't often realise that local Lifeline services rely on funds from our shops and community donations.
"Funds raised helps us to pay for local 13 11 14 crisis line phone support as well as community programs."
Lifeline has been running face-to-face counselling in the New England region since 2017.
Free face-to-face counselling appointments are currently available in Armidale, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, and Walcha. With free video counselling available to all New England residents. A referral is not needed to use these confidential services.
Mr Were said the shop opening is another important step in Lifeline's plan to bring more suicide prevention and crisis support services to Armidale and other parts of New England.
"The shop has some space for us to develop a support hub for more services in the future," he said.
Newly elected Business New England president, Aileen MacDonald OAM, welcomed the news of a local Lifeline shop.
"Lifeline is there for people in times of crisis, and the need for its services is huge in regional areas," Ms MacDonald said.
"Lifeline shops have become a unique and popular part of regional shopping. I'm sure the store will be a welcome addition to Beardy Street."
Mr Were stressed that Lifeline shops could only run with generous support from local volunteers.
"We'd love to hear from people who want to serve or work behind the scenes in our shops - even for just a few hours a week," he said.
"Working in a Lifeline shop is a great way to meet new friends while contributing to a much-needed community service gives people hope.
"Lifeline is here to support any local person who is struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. "
Since the pandemic started last year, calls to Lifeline's 13 11 14 crisis support service are up 25 percent. More people are also using Lifeline's text line and webchat service.
Nationally, Lifeline expects to respond to more than one million requests for support this year.
Mr Were is urging locals not to suffer in silence and said qualified counsellors are available for anyone struggling with any personal issues.
"Although we are not locked down in the New England, people are on edge," he said.
"Some business owners and staff are also struggling with business and job impacts, including a drop in visitors to the region during lockdowns in other areas and border closures.
"It is understandable to feel worried or overwhelmed; just having someone listen can make a big difference. Each of us can help people we know who are struggling or live alone by giving them a call or a message. We can all get through this if we are kind to one another and look out for each other."
The increased demand for services highlights the outstanding work that Lifeline's volunteer counsellors and telephone crisis support operators do every day, Mr Were said.
"We are always looking to hear from people who wish to contribute to their community and benefit from becoming a Lifeline volunteer."
People wishing to donate goods or to volunteer should call Lifeline on 1300 152 854.
Lifeline support services:
- Telephone: 13 11 14 (24 hours)
- Lifeline Text: 0477 13 11 14 (6pm - midnight)
- Chat online: www.lifeline.org.au (7pm - midnight)
- Counselling appointment bookings: 1300 152 854
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