Nearly 7,000 mugs have been “hugged” since a new help agency opened its doors in Maryport.

Hug A Mug, set up by the Ewanrigg Local Trust and run by volunteer coordinator Ann-Marie Steel, celebrated its second birthday recently.

As it looks to a possible move from a single room on the top floor of Maryport Health services to a cafe with seating for over 30, the organisation has been celebrating its success.

In its two years it has seen 240 individual clients, generating 2,268 visits.

“When we started it was predominantly females who came to us. Now it is more evenly split with 56 per cent women and 43 per cent men,” said Mrs Steel.

She said 70 per cent of those who had been seen had come with mental health concerns. Other problems included financial, loneliness and/or bereavement and unemployment.

Hug A Mug allows people to have a cuppa in a safe space, explain their problems or concerns. The volunteers will then signpost them to those agencies that can best help them.

Mrs Steel said the project was entirely dependant on donations. In the last six months it had received £4,406 from the Co-op, Sellafield, Hertel and PPS.

And, by the way, while 6,804 mugs of tea or coffee have been served, only four mugs have been broken!