When you’re addicted to something, life sucks. All you can think about is that thing. Not ‘what cool activity am I going to do today?’ Not ‘what am I going to eat?’ Not ‘who am I going to hang out with?’ Just that thing. That thing and nothing else.
For nearly 300,000 people in the UK that thing is drugs or alcohol. Every day at The Bridge we see the effect that being addicted to drugs or alcohol has on people’s lives. We see the health problems, financial worries and broken family relationships it causes.
But it doesn’t have to suck forever. And that’s why we exist. We want to give people a way out of their addiction and a route back into their local community. A way into a free, connected life.
We think that people need three things in order to move on from addiction:
Without a safe home - a place that feels comfortable, that you can identify with – moving on from addiction is a tall order. Too many people struggling with addictions end up in nightshelters and hostels; often feeling unsafe and surrounded by other residents using and drinking.
We give people somewhere safe and comfortable to live - a place to call home. Being in a supportive home environment gives people a great base from which to grow in their recovery.
When you’re struggling with addiction, self-reliance – just going it alone – doesn’t work. You know you’re in a hole but how do you get out of it? You need help.
We provide straight-to-the-point recovery groups that help people deal with the reality of addiction. These groups are a real lifeline, helping people get to grips with thoughts and behaviours that would otherwise trip them up.
“I’m an addict. It’s all I’ll ever be.” These are the words of one of the guys we met at the project and it’s how many people struggling with addiction think about themselves. Moving on from addiction means moving into a new way of thinking; having a new reason for living.
We encourage people to find new, creative ways to use their time, including volunteering in the local community. We want to help people discover their skills and talents and use them to benefit the people around them.
And once you've been through a recovery programme, what happens next? You arrive in your own flat and it suddenly hits you - you've got to do this, alone; to stand on your own two feet. Far too many men and women - who had been succeeding in their recovery - buckle at this point.
We want to make sure that those in recovery are able to navigate this tricky transition to independent living. We want to give them access to short-term recovery groups, based in their local community, that provide peer support and specifically focus on the challenges of living independently while in recovery.
Above all we think that people need to be treated as people. Not as patients, clients or a problem to be solved.
The Bridge is a group of people who care a lot about Birmingham and a lot about helping people who get left behind. We started The Bridge back in 1999 - just a small community of church-goers and friends who wanted to do something for the homeless community in our city. What started as a weekly meal (for anyone who wanted one) grew into a full-blown homeless hostel for young adults within a couple of years.
In the melting-pot of hostel life we learned how to support people facing enormous personal challenges; and our heart for these men and women grew and grew...
But there was a problem.
Despite years of pouring our best efforts into helping men and women move on we kept coming up against the same hurdle: drug and alcohol addiction. People couldn’t move on because every time they made a positive step forward, drugs or alcohol would send them crashing back to square one.
There had to be a better answer for these guys. So we did what we’ve always done: we learned and we took a risk.
In 2010 we moved our residents into normal family-sized homes and began running our addiction recovery programme. Two men’s houses were joined by a women’s house and the number of residents increased to 18. We now employ 6 staff members, expertly overseen by project lead Jon Smith (who brings a wealth of experience from his 20 years in the addictions field), and consistently see people move from desperation to a confident, free and hope-filled future.
For over 7 years we've helped men and women beat addiction. We haven't been funded by big council contracts. We've only been able to do what we do because of people like you. It's because of you that men and women facing a lifetime of oblivion are now clean, living in their own flat and building for their future. That's amazing. But it wouldn't have happened without you, and it won't happen without you now...
We need to raise £10,000 in order to run our recovery programme and provide transitional support for those moving into the community. This funding means we can buy the drug/alcohol testing kits, run the groups and provide the one-to-one support people need to break free from drug and alcohol addiction. We will put half this amount towards running an innovative new community programme for those moving from supported to independent accommodation; giving them the strength and confidence to succeed in their recovery, on their own two feet.
We want to be here for the next 7 years, helping people break free from addiction. In fact, we want to be here until addiction has completely become a thing of the past. We can only do this with your support. Please pledge now as we continue on this journey and let's help more men and women beat addiction for life...