Suicide responders say call-outs have increased 'dramatically' in South Tyneside

On average, the South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade is called out 120 times a year. Credit: PA

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade (VLB) is responding to more call-outs related to mental health crises than ever before.

Steven West, Brigade Captain, has been volunteering for the Brigade for 16 years.

He told ITV Tyne Tees that when he started, there were four or five call outs a month - now there are two or three a week.

He said: "The amount of call-outs, especially due to mental health throughout the UK, has dramatically increased, so coastguard teams and volunteer life brigades are getting called out more often than the past."

On average the South Shields VLB is called out 120 times a year.

The duration of the call-outs can last from an hour, up to two or three hours.

Mr West added: "That can be for anybody in the water, anybody on the edge of a cliff or in a bay cut off by the tide.

"Obviously access and extracting the casualty from that locations falls to us."

On Saturday 25 May, supporters walked the coast from the Brigade Watch House in South Shields to the Tommy statue in Seaham and back.

The 32 mile walk aimed to raise funds for the VLB.

Fundraisers walked from South Shields to Seaham and back. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Walk organiser, Angie Comerford, who runs Hebburn Helps foodbank, has been organising the walk for four years.

She told ITV Tyne Tees: "It comes off the back of, sadly, the mental health state in the area.

"They're out in all hours, it doesn't matter what day of the year or what the weather's like, they are out. Real life heroes."

The average running costs for the charity are around £26,000 a year.

Mr West said: "We rely on donations and grant applications. Without support like this we would struggle to get that funding in, it makes a massive difference."

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