Exciting plans for all !
Samaritans Of Cornwall At Truro
& Branch Relocation appeal
REG CHARITY NO: 1173481
Who are Samaritans of Cornwall at Truro?
The only Branch of Samaritans in Cornwall, we are an independent charity and must raise our own funds each year. In 2020 we will celebrate our 50th Anniversary and host the Samaritans National Walk to mark the occasion. We have been based at 19 Treyew Road, Truro, since 1973. Prior to that, we rented buildings, but it was agreed we would fundraise to buy a property - and the Branch was fortunate enough to receive a significant legacy to support this.
Nationally and at our Cornwall Branch, Samaritans provide a listening service for people in despair and distress. Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide. We work to achieve this by making it our mission to alleviate emotional distress and reduce the incidence of suicidal feelings through the simple act of listening without giving advice or judgement, and providing a confidential opportunity to explore feelings and emotions.
The Branch currently has over 120 volunteers - mainly Listening
Volunteers but also Support Volunteers who assist with fundraising,
finance and admin. There are no paid members of staff with all funds
raised focused on the running of the Branch and achieving our vision.
At Truro, we respond to around 36,000 calls, texts, emails and face-to-
face contacts each year, keeping the Branch running almost 24/7.
During April 2019 alone, we took 2713 calls, 424 texts and 245 emails.
To do this, all Listening Volunteers agree to work the phones for around
4 hours per week minimum, including at least one night-shift per month.
We reach out into the local community, visiting various locations and
organisations and talking to the people that need us, where they need us. This includes A+E departments, custody units, schools, universities and British Rail. We also use garden events/initiatives to help those that might benefit from more relaxing surroundings. Our awareness and preventative work includes giving talks to groups such as Young Farmers, Lions, Rotaries, Round Tables and WIs, as well as taking stands at events. This helps us to reach people potentially at the early stages and is all thanks to our outreach volunteers.
The number of suicides in Cornwall continues to be higher than the national average, and the instances of self-harm and attempted suicide continues to rise; whilst some areas of our county are in the top 10% most deprived in the country. It is due to the dedication of our volunteers that we continue to be there whenever people need us.
The Branch is totally self-funded and will need to raise in the region of £85,000 this year to meet running costs such as supporting outreach programmes, phone and internet services, training and development, volunteer expenses and supplies of literature and awareness material, plus maintaining our premises. Alongside this, we need to raise significant funds for our major and urgent appeal (see below for more info).
A significant proportion of our funding comes from a stall at Par Market in St Austell, which is run by volunteers. It relies on the sale of donated second-hand clothing, games, books, etc, raising around £24,000 a year. Other sources of income include donations and fund-raising events. We are applying for national grants and have been supported by local funders such as The Cornwall Community Chest and groups such as Rotary Clubs and Lions.
Branch Relocation & Appeal
In 2015, as part of a Governance and Assurance process for Samaritans, we received a pre-arranged visit from two trained assessors, who reviewed our practices and location to ensure we were meeting the required standards.
Whilst the visit was full of praise for our operations, it found that we were not fully compliant with access requirements. We considered undertaking work to rectify this, but instead chose to have a full-scale review of our estate, to find out if there was a better way to utilise our building and ensure our Branch could continue to operate for a further 50 years. A Project Team was set up to explore three main opportunities:
- To do the work needed to become disabled-friendly.
- To build an extension on our current building to provide a disabled-friendly operations room, a face-to-face meeting room and bedrooms. This option also explored other uses for the top two floors of our building, particularly with income generation in mind.
- To sell our existing building and find/build an alternative that would meet all our requirements, plus also provide income generation through the subletting of office space or meeting space.
All volunteers at the Branch were surveyed in 2018 and their response was overwhelmingly in favour of option 3. It was felt that the expense required to make the Branch accessible was very high, and due to the age and construction of the building, making the top two floors available for rent was likely to be problematic.
New premises will enable a wide range of benefits, including the space and facilities that we need to run our charity more effectively, incorporating additional space to rent out to generate an income – making us more sustainable.
It was established that new premises would enable us:
- To be there for more callers/texters/emailers when they need us through increased number of volunteers.
- To provide easy access for our walk-ins, providing a face-to-face service for more people.
- To enable access and other improved facilities throughout the building for existing and potential volunteers with limited mobility or other disabilities.
- To attract new volunteers so that we can remain open more hours, embrace new technology and offer more outreach into the community.
- To maximise a location to raise awareness of our services – for both users and volunteers.
- To offer quality training and meeting facilities for use by Samaritans.
- To enable volunteers to meet and work with other agencies in the field of preventing suicide, through space for meeting and collaborative working, to widen our reach.
- To offer training and meeting facilities for use by other community and voluntary bodies, enabling us to support other complementary organisations, whilst generating an income from room rental for meetings.
- To provide a low maintenance, cost efficient Centre, to ensure expenses are controlled and that funds raised are focussed on the provision of service and not on maintenance or overheads.
- To safeguard for the future by providing a source of steady income for the Branch, through renting out office/business space, so that we are not so reliant on current initiatives, donations and fundraising.
At this point a Branch Relocation Team was established and fundraising plans began. In late 2018 we publicly launched our appeal to overwhelming support. In December 2019 we found ideal new premises and we are currently negotiating the purchase of that property and the sale of ours.
BRANCH RELOCATION FUNDRAISING APPEAL
In December 2019 we identified an existing building which we believe will suit our needs very well and we are now raising the remaining funds needed to purchase, refurbish the building and fit it out. To do this will require us to raise total funds of around £657,000.
With £165,000 raised and £50,000 firmly pledged, plus our current building valued at between
£315,000 - £350,000 (taking the lower number for the safest approach) we have reached a total
of £530,000 and we are working hard to raise the remaining £127,000 as quickly as possible.
For more info, please contact [email protected]
With thanks to media partner - Cornwall Today - and all the local press for their support.
Find out more.