In this section we want to bring you into the world of Bridges, what it is we do, why do we do it, and most importantly what difference do we make? Each month we’re going to provide you with examples of our work, and maybe, just maybe, you will be inspired to get involved? But no pressure, more importantly, we hope this will be an interesting read!
Let’s start with a few questions that people may want to know about Bridges. First, why are we here? Well that’s easy to answer, it’s because we are needed by the eighty plus people who turn up and thank us for opening up our doors. But how do we know we are really needed, and not just generating demand for a free breakfast? Well, we know in Newham and its borders there are people who sleep under bridges, on buses, in squats, on friend’s sofa, and no lie, I’ve even heard of someone sleeping in a tree house! There are people staying in hostels, people who just managed to get local housing and people who are just plain lonely. They are people in need, often very vulnerable due to various substance misuse, mental and physical health difficulties. Even though we are a small (but very dedicated) voluntary team, we believe that everyone deserves compassion and should be welcomed.
But how do we know that we are really making a good impact? Some people argue that places which provide food to homeless people are just supporting people to stay on the streets instead of supporting them to seek help. And maybe these people would be right, if that’s all Bridges did. But we are not content with just serving food, we talk to people, we learn their names, we find out about their troubles and addictions and we build up relationships, often through our focussed Monday groups where we have more time to make referrals to appropriate agencies. For a lot of people who come to Bridges, the most important aspect is somewhere safe and friendly that they can be at peace, but for others, Bridges has lived up to its name, through showing how to love and trust others, it has provided a Bridge to supporting people in engaging with healthcare and housing providers.
So this is where I leave you, with a promise for the next blog to be filled with an in-depth story of a Bridges user, or ex user. I hope that I have managed to keep your attention to the end, and perhaps inspired you to consider how to get involved? If you have any comments about the blog, or would like to hear more details about anything I have mentioned, please do post a comment below. Thanks for reading and see you next month!
By Tracey Gyateng, Bridges Secretary