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Charity celebrates 25 years

The Bridge (East Midlands), a local homelessness charity based in Loughborough, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this week.

Having set a target of raising £25,000 in community donations to mark the milestone year, the charity has announced that it has now exceeded its goal.

The organisation says it has benefitted from the generosity of local people, and adapted ways of fundraising throughout ‘lockdown’, hosting online quizzes and social media call-outs.

Founded as a Christmas Shelter in 1993, The Bridge developed its first Housing Advice services in 1995 when it was first registered as a charity.

Paul Snape, Deputy Chief Officer, who has worked at The Bridge for 18 years, commented:

“As a Christmas Shelter; we offered some winter comfort. It was a non-judgemental space where people could access the services they needed, including a doctor, dentist and chiropodist. 

“As well as Christmas gifts and nourishing food, street homelessness people could shower, access new clothes and get a haircut. But, we recognised that to solve homelessness in the longer term, we needed to provide year round advice and support to people to overcome their housing and homelessness issues..

“Following this decision, our Trustees at the time, along with local Elected Members, opened The Bridge Housing Advice Centre in November 1995.  

“Twenty-five years on, we still pride ourselves on providing a welcoming atmosphere, and we have worked hard to retain that even though we have expanded our reach and are now supporting thousands of local people annually. I’m incredibly proud of the dedication of our staff, who dealt with 4,447 enquiries last year. 

“Our longevity is testament to the success of our work, and we are also incredibly proud to have nurtured great partnerships with the Council, the wider voluntary sector and other statutory organisations.”

Since 1995, The Bridge (East Midlands) has since grown significantly, and the organisation now employs 45 staff who deliver 12 different services across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. 

The Bridge helps local people to address the root causes of homelessness and find longer-term sustainable solutions. It offers assistance to a range of client groups including young people, ex-offenders, street homeless people, families, landlords and those who are housed but at risk of crisis.

The award-winning homelessness prevention charity has gained recognition over the years, presenting at national conferences and receiving long-term support from the likes of Children in Need, and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Molly Boggis, Head of Housing Services, added:

“While celebrating our 25th Anniversary, it gives us great joy to see how far we have come and what our impact is on the local community on a daily basis. 

“Whether it’s a food parcel, tenancy support, assistance with housing applications or family mediation, we will always continue striving towards our vision of resilient and compassionate communities. 

“There are always new challenges to be faced; this year has presented more obstacles than ever before. Despite the on-going pandemic, we have adapted our services and continued operating, while dealing with the vastly increased demand for support.

“Times are tough for so many, and we are extremely grateful to those who have helped us reach our 2020 fundraising target in just nine months. 

“We are excited to set a new challenge though, to help us expand some of our services to cope with the increase in demand; including our 0800 number which has dealt with 75% more enquiries March to September, than the same time last year. 

“Having already raised £40,941, our 25th Anniversary fundraising target is now being increased to £50,000. We hope that the community will continue to support us and get behind us in the ongoing fight against homelessness, particularly as we approach the difficult winter months.”

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