THE RNLI has hit back at newspaper reports 'revealing' the charity helps people abroad, as well as here in the UK.

Over the weekend, the Daily Mail and The Times newspapers ran stories highlighting the work of the RNLI - which operates across the Somerset coast, with lifeboat stations in Minehead, Burnham and Weston - abroad.

It has been reported the stories have resulted in a number of people pledging to cancel donations to the charity.

Now, the RNLI has hit back at the stories, saying it is 'proud' of the international work it does saving lives across the globe.

A spokesperson for the charity said: "The RNLI has always been dedicated to drowning reduction.

"The World Health Organization estimates that 320,000 people drown each year worldwide and we believe that with others, we should use our lifesaving expertise to try and help tackle this.

"Our work so far has shown that simple, inexpensive solutions are very effective; a relatively low investment in overseas projects goes a long way and makes a big difference."

The charity said it spends less than 2% of the RNLI’s total annual expenditure on 'international drowning prevention activity'.

"Providing the very best search and rescue service in the UK and Ireland remains our priority but we are also proud to use our expertise, knowledge and influence to help others save lives across the world, particularly in countries where drowning rates are high," the spokesperson said.

The stories came after the charity revealed it was cutting around 100 roles.

"Since 2012 there has been a steady increase in international expenditure that reflects the increase in the number of projects the team are involved in," the spokesperson added.

"However, all areas of RNLI work – including our international budget – are being looked at and we are reducing costs wherever we can as part of an organisational wide programme of activity to get us back to living within our means."