I think it’s fair to say 2016 will not go down in our sector’s history as being one of its finest years! Nationally heroin deaths have doubled since 2011 and central government disinvestment in public health has resulted in the biggest reductions to substance misuse budgets in decades. At the same time Public Health England reports that alcohol misuse is now the leading cause of death in 15 to 49 year olds and 16% of all workplace absences are alcohol related. There is a lack of leadership and policy direction at government level, with delays publishing a new drug strategy and no sign of a national alcohol strategy on the horizon. And yet drugs continue to be a major social problem destroying lives, families, communities and according to the modern Crime Prevention Strategy 2016, being implicated in 50% of acquisitive crime and creating an economic burden of some £10.7bn per year.
So after a frosty start to my message let me bring in some New Year cheer. I believe 2017 will be Bridge’s finest yet! We face one of our biggest challenges ever, tendering for the adult service contract and designing a new system that will deliver high quality treatment and recovery services to the people of Bradford for at least the next 5 years. Fortunately I am surrounded by an amazing team of trustees, senior managers, managers, staff and volunteers dedicated to our mission and helping service users turn their lives around. I see this in the services we deliver, the feedback I get from clients and of course through the statistics and performance indicators we report on to our commissioners. But sometimes it’s the small stuff that tells me about the special people who make Bridge the organisation I’m proud to lead. Like the staff that voluntarily come in over Christmas, the people who take on great personal challenges to raise money for Bridge and the ones who offer support and encouragement to clients through the Bridge Recovery Facebook Group in their own time. Winning the tender is all about convincing commissioners that Bridge is the best organisation to deliver the new contract – is it any wonder that I’m so confident?!
2017 will be a year of transition and transformation for Bridge and our service users. Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting and full of opportunity and the way we can make the most of it is by supporting each other. Our work is about saving lives and helping people to achieve their full potential, it’s incredibly important and I know through your actions that you feel the same way as I do. Let’s do our best to make the most of each and every day, helping our service users achieve their dreams and aspirations. I wish all of you and your families a fantastic and happy year ahead.