Bridge began life in 2005 as part of the Government's Drugs Intervention Programme which was aimed at drug-using offenders. Bridge recruited, trained and provided peer mentors to work with individuals on that programme.
In 2007 Bridge became a Social Enterprise, a company owned by the volunteers in which any surplus (or profit) has to be reinvested in services. Since then Bridge has become a nationally-recognised organisation providing a recovery service for drugs or alcohol users in Northamptonshire, as well as mentoring services for Northants Probation. It now employs 22 staff, most of whom started as volunteers, and most of whom are ex-users of drugs or alcohol. There are around 70 registered volunteers.
Bridge has one main aim: that is to reduce the amount of harm caused by drugs or alcohol. That harm may be to the individual through ill-health, overdose, mental health issues, poor living conditions or poor prospects. Or it may be to others through acquisitive crime, family breakdown, domestic violence etc. We work alongside Police, Probation, health professionals, housing providers, social services, treatment providers and other agencies. We work with Adult Learning, Job Centre Plus, Churches, Leisure Centres, Libraries and anyone else who recognises that they have a part to play in helping people overcome problems with drugs or alcohol. We enable recovery from all types of drug misuse, both illicit and prescribed including so called 'legal highs', and from all types of alcohol problems such as dependence, self-medication and binge drinking.
We help people to sustain recovery through friendships, employment, housing, health etc. We will support people to get treatment when necessary and to exit treatment when desirable. We call ourselves a 'club' and we have Recovery Workers who are ex-users and who work with members to help them achieve recovery. We provide physical activities (gym, running clubs, football etc), a café, complementary therapies, access to mutual aid (AA, NA, Smart Recovery etc), Job Club, allotments, information and guidance, a range of other activities, and volunteering opportunities both within Bridge and in the community. We have a growing catering service that employs both paid staff and volunteers. We provide vocational training and accredited peer mentor training.
There is a main base in Northampton, as well as Wellingborough Bridge and Corby Bridge. We also do some work in Rushden, Kettering and other locations. We hope to provide a service in all parts of the county.
We recognise that recovery is achieved by individuals for themselves. We also recognise that we can provide an environment, an atmosphere, an attitude, some services and some support that can help make the difference for some people.