The Bridge cafe provides a welcoming, non-judgemental neutral space for people to meet, three days per week
Twice a week the breakfast club runs for those on probation. Ex-offenders meet their probation officers here with a view to minimising any current or future offending behaviour and including them in the local community. On one of those days it is exclusively for vulnerable female offenders. Overall we have found that the offer of a free breakfast and welcoming atmosphere increases the attendance of clients to their probation appointments.
On a third day we invite veterans of the Armed Forces, the purpose being to end the isolation of veterans; the most common denominator in Armed Forces Veterans’ mental health issues and suicides. For some, the breakfast clubs is simply a chance to reminisce and dip in and out as the mood takes them; some need it more than others…but all who attend benefit to one degree or another. For some, it keeps them alive!
Volunteers at the café seek to befriend those who visit, identifying other social and lifestyle needs and signposting to relevant support services to help reduce isolation and promoting healthy lifestyle choices.
The Bridge has become a great space for building community and trust with people who are often excluded and isolated, which for many has been made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Often there can be knock on affects in other areas of life such as debt and addictions. Supporting agencies visit on a regular basis e.g. Christians Against Poverty, Change Grow Live, Crawley Borough Council (housing), Streetlight, British Legion, PTSD Resolution etc; allowing those attending to be linked in with the appropriate support there and then.
The Bridge café has seen the impact of a number of clients going on to improve their lives, including some who have started volunteering at the café to gain work experience they can use to help them find future employment. Others have become more involved in their local communities as a result of the networks they have become engaged with at The Bridge.
The Bridge cafe is run with 1 x paid employee and a wonderful team of volunteers.
All money crowdfunded will go towards the running of the cafe - the food provided and overheads to enable us to continue to run the cafe and this valuable service to probation and those experiencing financial difficulties.