Dear colleagues, friends and supporters,
2017 will be remembered as a rollercoaster year in Bridge’s history. It’s been a year of change, with a great deal of highs and some lows too.
One of the high points was of course winning the new substance misuse contract in partnership with CGL and Project 6, which brings a degree of security to the charity for the coming 5 years. It has been a privilege to witness how the staff team have managed this transition over the preceding months, as many have had to face the insecurity of knowing that there were fewer jobs in the system, whilst maintaining a service for the ongoing needs of our clients, and getting to grips with a whole new set of systems and processes. This type of change can be incredibly stressful and I’m proud of how they’ve sustained each other through their resilience, courage and commitment. We have also seen exciting developments in other parts of Bridge, including new services in Leeds and contracts that will help people with significant life challenges find employment.
A low point was the closure of Forks, which had become one of Bradford’s best loved cafes. Whilst Forks was a successful business in its own right, it was unsustainable as a training facility once it lost its Public Health funding. The good news is that our trainees have continued to be supported elsewhere in Bridge in pursuing their hospitality and catering training, during the course of which they provide low cost meals for over 200 of our beneficiaries each week, thanks to our partnership with Morrison Supermarkets.
The year has been particularly challenging for the voluntary and community sector and many local organisations are fearful and uncertain about their future as finances get ever tighter. Our service users rely on these community assets to support their recovery journey and I believe strongly that larger local charities such as Bridge have a responsibility to support them. We are therefore focusing on building even stronger ties and pursuing opportunities to build local consortia when we bid for contracts and I actively encourage organisations to get in touch if you would like to work with us in the future.
I am proud of everything that Bridge has achieved and what we stand for.
Our fantastic staff, volunteers, supporters and of course service users are the people who define us and I am immensely grateful for all their hard work, loyalty and tenacity. Looking ahead I have real confidence in Our strengths as an organisation and in the impact our work has on people’s lives.
I look forward to 2018 with optimism and I wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a successful New Year.
1st October 2017 saw the commencement of the new contract led by CGL, in partnership with Bridge and Project 6. To date Bridge has had very little involvement in the management of the service, as from the 1st October all the staff in the system transferred over to CGL along with the responsibility to manage the transition to the new model.
That all changes on 1st January 2018 when relevant staff transfer to Bridge’s employment and we take over responsibility for our element of the service contract.
This will see a significant expansion in the scope and breadth of our substance misuse services, as we will now be delivering all the structured treatment to pre-dependent drug and alcohol users across the whole of Bradford and Keighley. In addition we will be providing structured groupwork, recovery and volunteering programmes, early intervention and family support services in Bradford.
This is an incredibly exciting time for us and a real opportunity to take substance misuse services out into the community more through our partnerships with the third sector.
Drug related deaths are at the highest levels since comparable statistics have been recorded in 1993 and many link this to a combination of austerity and an increasingly aging and complex drug using community.
Bridge recently completed a study commissioned by Public Health England testing national harm reduction messages with drug users not in treatment, as part of their strategy to better understand how to tackle this.
Every day we are reminded of the importance of our work, through the clients we meet in our substance misuse, complex needs, exiting prostitution, employment, training and recovery services. We cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge we face and the level of need in our community, especially in those who are most disadvantaged. Nevertheless, our work brings hope and transformation into the lives of many and their stories of recovery are what drive our passion and commitment.
When Sarah was referred to us by probation she was homeless, being exploited sexually and financially by so called friends and severely dependent on alcohol and crack cocaine. Today, she achieved her 7th month of abstinence in her own fiat and will be celebrating Christmas for the first time in a decade with her children and grandchildren.
Andrew had been sleeping in a doorway of a town centre building for months and a lady who worked there had been providing him with food and warm clothes. She referred him to us because he was too afraid to ask for help and his severe alcohol dependence was a barrier to accessing services. Our team went out to see him initially on the streets and as they built a relationship managed to engage him in the services he needed. Today Andrew is in his own property, working part-time and attending college. The lady who referred him recently said that”Bridge was heaven sent in a moment”.
Whilst these are not their real names, these are real people, who love, hurt and dream just like the rest of us.
This is why, we do what we do.