Brent charity in Harlesden fears unpaid volunteers will be driven away by parking restrictions

Brent Samaritans chair Kay Meredith fears for the future of the charity.

Brent Samaritans chair Kay Meredith fears for the future of the charity. - Credit: Archant

A Brent charity claims vital volunteers who save lives could be drive away if parking restrictions are not lifted outside its office.

Unpaid workers at Brent Samaritans in Leopold Road, Harlesden, are being forced to feed a parking meter with £8 while they work one day shift at the charity.

The workers previously used Brent Council’s £1-a-day scratchcard scheme for visitor parking permits.

But the council’s controversial scrapping of the scheme this month is a move which could spell disaster for the charity.

Kay Meredith, who chairs Brent Samaritans, said: “The parking restrictions are going to be disastrous for recruitment and retention of volunteers.

“Brent Samaritans is a vital service.

“We receive a lot of calls from people suffering from distress or despair, who are at risk of suicide and need to talk.

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“The ultimate aim of the Samaritans is to save lives.”

Brent Council has offered the charity three business permits.

But Ms Meredith said: “They would be of no use to the 20 or so Samaritans who drive to the branch.

“Some of them come from as far away as Totteridge in north London.”

Ms Meredith also highlighted safety concerns for the volunteers who rely on their cars due to past muggings in area.

“Public transport links are limited,” she said.

“It’s at least a 10-minute walk from the nearest bus-stop.”

The charity is appealing to the council to issue it with £80-a-year charity permits which volunteers could use for unlimited hours.

Ms Meredith added: “It would be great if Brent Council could introduce charity permits, not just for the Samaritans, but for other charities in the area.

“Alternatively, we would like to have the same parking rights as residents who pay £1 for a visitor’s permit for a whole day.”

A council spokesman said: “We have listened to the Samaritans and have agreed to temporarily adjust the maximum stay for the pay and display meters in Leopold Road for a one-month trial period, to see if that helps them.”

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