Norwich Samaritans' plans for £750k new home given go ahead

Norwich Samaritans have been given the green light for a £750,000 new home by planners.

Norwich Samaritans have been given the green light for a £750,000 new home by planners. - Credit: Brittany Woodman/ Archant

A lifeline mental health charity which is a third of the way to a £750,000 renovation goal has been given the green light by planners.

Norwich Samaritans has supported people in distress or at risk from suicide from its St Stephens Square base since its founding in 1964 and had applied to renovate its headquarters.

Norwich City Council planners have now given the charity permission and, once funding is secured, it is hoped the works can be completed by 2024, to mark its 60th anniversary.

How the new Norwich Samaritans branch could look.

How the new branch could look. - Credit: Brown & Co

James Ellis, Norwich Samaritans director, said: “We are delighted to have been given permission to push ahead with our works and are grateful to everyone who has donated so far.

“We know our branch is no longer fit for purpose and to secure our future this project is essential.

“Our volunteers will continue to fundraise and raise awareness of our work, but we are also appealing to the generosity of the public in Norfolk to help make it a reality.”

James Ellis, director of Norwich Samaritans.

James Ellis, director of Norwich Samaritans. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

The total cost of the works is estimated to be roughly £750,000, with more than £250,000 already raised.

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The building suffers from damp and structural issues, and conversations have been ongoing for years over its next chapter.

As well as securing the building’s future, the work will expand the capacity of the branch, enabling it to take roughly 50pc more calls.

A listening volunteer at Norwich Samaritans on a call.

A listening volunteer at Norwich Samaritans on a call. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

No objections were raised over the plans via the city council’s planning portal. 

Norwich Samaritans is staffed by about 200 volunteers, who answer calls on its 24-hour helpline and respond to letters, instant messages, emails and face-to-face visits from those in need.

Samaritans Norwich launches £750k rebuild fundraiser. Charles, Martyn, Katherine, Anna, Amy, Rosie,

Norwich Samaritans has launched a £750,000 fundraiser. From left to right, top to bottom, Charles, Martyn, Katherine, Anna, Amy, Rosie, Hayley, Lynn and James Ellis. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

In 2019 alone, volunteers responded to almost 40,000 requests for help.

Before the pandemic, its outreach team also visited local schools, Norwich’s two universities, businesses and events, as well as running two Listener schemes in HMP Norwich and HMP Bure.

It has two shops in Norwich - one on Westlegate and the second on Aylsham Road.

To see the progress of the appeal and to donate, people can visit https://www.kindlink.com/fundraising/Norwich-Samaritans/renovate-our-bran