Happy new year and welcome back those of you who’ve enjoyed a well earned Xmas break! This time of year is important for many in setting new goals and resolutions for the year to come but also it’s a time to reflect on where we are now and the distance we’ve travelled. Last month I noticed that there are now 92 colleagues on the Bridge payroll and it’s very rewarding to know that despite the difficult financial climate our charity has continued to flourish and we’ve never been stronger.
Despite all our successes last year, such as winning important new contracts to deliver services and our biggest ever grant to open a new Employment, Training and Enterprise centre, it would be wrong of me to minimise the challenges ahead of us. The chancellor’s spending review outlines an average real terms cut in the public health budget of 3.9% each year over the next 5 years. This might not sound a lot but it has significant implications for drug and alcohol services across Bradford and for the first time all agencies have been tasked by our Commissioners to make cuts to front line services. This is at a time when drug related deaths have never been higher, 1 in 200 injecting heroin users released from prison die within a month of release and we are dealing with a steadily aging and more complex group of problem drug users who desperately need our help and support. Coupled with this, new and emerging drugs such as ‘Spice’ are starting to have a real harmful impact on society and are likely to take up more and more of our resources in the coming years. Whilst we are concerned about the cuts in services and increased demand, we are also challenged by the forthcoming Bradford tender in 2016 which will include around 70% of our organisation’s services. 2016 is going to be a year when we must focus on delivering the savings and efficiencies our Commissioners need from us, whilst building a winning tender consortium of partners that will ensure we will continue to deliver high quality substance misuse and recovery services in the future.
Our success has always been down to the outstanding quality and commitment of Bridge staff and volunteers. My message to all of you is that in the midst of these challenges the management’s priority is to maintain a stable and positive environment so you can continue to provide the excellent services that Bridge is renowned for. Our work can at times be tragic and heart breaking as we see every day the despair addiction causes. But there is another side, the 300 people plus every year that are discharged from Bridge drug free who inspire us with their courage and journey of recovery. Each of these people is someone’s mum or dad, brother, sister, relative or friend and their recovery means that families can be healed and society is better off as there is less crime. In order to help our clients recover, they must feel a sense of hope and a belief that change is possible through every contact with our service. It is our responsibility to do our utmost to help our beneficiaries achieve their aspirations by providing them with the inspiration, encouragement and professional tailored care that they need.
Working in our sector can be challenging, but it is a privilege to have a job with the potential to do so much good for other people and the wider society. Our work saves lives and each and every member of staff and volunteer has an important role to play. Bridge management will do our best to ensure working for us recognises and rewards loyalty, hard work, results and commitment and wherever possible we will promote from within and encourage our people to develop their talent. We will continue to create opportunities for our beneficiaries to be at the heart of our planning and service delivery, through volunteering, work experience and entry level employment opportunities.
2016 will be an exciting and eventful year for Bridge. I feel grateful and privileged to work with such an amazing and talented group of people and wish you all much happiness in your personal and professional lives.