A CHARITY dedicated to providing support to people facing depression or contemplating suicide is nearing a move to a brand new base in Kingston – but needs about £65,000 in funding.

The Kingston Samaritans have been working since February to transform a disused building at the junction of Wheatfield Way and Palmer Crescent into a centre specifically designed for residents to come in and seek support.

Despite work being under way since February, the charity is still short of the total needed to fund the move from its old base in St Andrew’s Road, Surbiton, which is now closed. Bosses hope to move in the summer.

Branch director Helen Dixon said: “The upkeep on an old building like that is really prohibitive to a charity.

“I’ve just closed down a charity that couldn’t carry on because it didn’t have a base – it’s got to be fit for purpose.

“There’s a mountain to climb, we will just open when we can.

“We are dependent on the good will of the public. People are incredibly generous.”

The charity plans to make its new base completely accessible to people with disabilities, which will include the installation of a specialised lift costing £22,000 alone. The group cannot rely on the central Samaritans fundraising pot for help, it said.

Mrs Dixon added: “There’s no reason why you can’t be a good Samaritan and disabled.

“People assume that you get given money, but every penny we need we have to earn ourselves.”

Nationwide, the charity is run by more than 20,000 volunteers across 201 branches. On average, somebody contacts the Samaritans looking for support every six seconds.

With about 120 volunteers, Kingston Samaritans is the biggest branch in Greater London outside of the central zone. Training somebody to be a Samaritan takes about one year.

Mrs Dixon said she hopes moving to a new base will help the group expand its outreach and better cater for the different needs of Kingston residents.

She said: “There are all sorts of things that lead people to our door, not just people suffering from depression.

“We always have at least two volunteers on shift at any one time. We’re building it so that one day we can have more than that. Everything is done by the volunteers themselves.

“We do outreach at the YMCA in Surbiton, we do a lot of stuff that is not in this building but things in the surrounding area.”

Kingston MP James Berry said: “The interesting thing is [former mayor] Roy Arora has just raised £65,000 so it can be done.

“Mental health is one of the big issues facing society at the moment. It is now being spoken about more commonly, but we do have in Kingston unfortunately some high profile places where people tend to try and take their lives.

“It’s really important that the Samaritans have a presence and a base.”

To speak to a Samaritan phone 116 123.

The Mind charity also promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems. Call Its helpline number is 03001 233 393.