The Bury St Edmunds and West Suffolk branch of the Samaritans have approached St Edmundsbury Borough Council for a loan to help them move into bigger premises, saying they have ‘outgrown’ their current base.
The group has applied for a bridging loan of £150,000 to purchase a new building, saying their current home at 46 Well Street, Bury is too small and ill-equipped for their growing ranks.
They now have in excess of 100 volunteers, several of whom are elderly and two who are wheelchair-users, increasing the need for a bigger, more accessible building.
Volunteer Christine, who has been a Samaritan for nearly two years, said: “We have outgrown the existing centre. The premises are unsuitable for us.”
The Samaritans plan to sell their current premises, valued at around £220,000, but cannot be without a base as they cannot close their services.
They would require a short period with two properties while the new building is fitted with phone lines and other necessities.
The group, who receive around 36,000 calls a year and run a service almost 24 hours a day, cannot afford to do this without a loan.
Christine said: “We could sell Well Street but that would mean complete closure, and that would disrupt our callers.”
They are looking to purchase new premises either in or on the outskirts of Bury, where they can have a bigger operations room in which to take calls and send emails, and space to conduct training for new volunteers.
The group, which runs as an independent charity like all Samaritans branches, receives no government funding. Volunteers are all unpaid and they rely completely on locally-raised funding.