“USE us or lose us.”

That was the message from a Copeland post office as it outlined the difficulties it had faced since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Postmistress Elaine Houston, of Millom Post Office, said business had suffered due to the lack of people travelling abroad - leaving services such as currency exchange unused.

Despite this, all the usual bills - such as gas and electricity - naturally still needed paying.

“I suspect 2021 is not going to be much better,” said Ms Houston.

“The Government, in its wisdom, scared everyone to death about touching cash; just a push to their cashless society they so desperately want in my opinion - but that’s another story.

“This also was a huge hit to my business for cash deposits and withdrawals etc.

“With this, people have been pushed into changing their ways of doing things, like paying bills by direct debit, doing their car tax, lottery etc. online, all of which is lost business for us.

“Now, with all this in mind, I do not get a guaranteed wage from the Post Office, and we are no longer backed by the Government. We are purely paid on a transaction basis - pence per transaction - but pennies make pounds and pounds pay the bills.”

Ms Houston said she reduced hours at the post office to minimise the cost of outgoings.

However, this caused queues to build up outside, resulting in an added hit to the shop side of the business.

She described it as a ‘no-win situation’.

She issued a plea to the public, saying: “I need all your help.”

She said: “We do not only sell stamps, we can do lots of other things also.

“We do life insurance, car tax, passport checks and send MoneyGrams, cash withdrawals, cash deposits, cheque deposits, document verification - and the list goes on.

“Then there’s the shop side: we sell stationary, newspapers, magazines, traditional sweets, party cones, helium balloons, children’s clothes, toys and more.

“We appreciate each and every one of you.

“So all I ask is, next time your car is due for taxing or you have a bill to pay, please pay us a visit.

“We will do our very best to help you any way we can.

“Every little helps in keeping our post office open.”

The post office is now back to its usual hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. It is closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1pm. It is also open between 8am and 12.30pm on Saturdays.

“We hope to see you all very soon to keep our post office open,” said Ms Houston.