Norwich organisation celebrates 20 years in the city
PUBLISHED: 16:26 11 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:26 11 December 2014
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2014
A Norwich organisation which has supported those with mental ill- health for two decades has marked its 20th anniversary.
Bridges, based in the Vauxhall Community Hub, is an organisation which offers a drop-in service for people living with mental illness in the city.
This week staff, volunteers and group members gathered for an anniversary celebration to mark the success of Bridges, which was established in 1994 and has helped hundreds of local members over the past two decades.
The organisation, which is run by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, has a remit to provide support, days out, social occasions and signposting services for people living with severe and enduring mental illness.
Over the years Bridges has been through several changes of venue and many changes in mental-health service provision and budgets but puts its resilience down to its ability to adapt to changes and put its users at the heart of everything it does.
Group member Andrew Godliman, who has been using the service for the past 19 years and suffers from paranoia, said: “The group is like a family to me, there is a lot of good energy here.
“Sometimes you can’t get hold of social workers but here there is always someone for you to talk to.”
Michelle Morris, the service lead for Rethink Mental Illness in Norwich, said “Bridges is one of only a few organisations in the city providing such a personalised drop-in service for people suffering from mental-health issues and places an emphasis on moving people towards supporting themselves.”
Gail Sharman has been a member of Bridges for the past year and attends the group three times a week.
The 48-year-old, from Mile Cross, said “Bridges is like a sanctuary at times, it has helped me socialise more and it’s nice to be part of a group who take you as you are. I’ve made many friends and it’s important it continues.”
In its 20th year the organisation is developing peer-led groups and befriending services as an integral part of its work.
Maddi Cassell, mental-health recovery worker for Bridges, said “Peer support is vital for helping people on the recovery path.
“Bridges has weathered many changes over the years but I am extremely proud it’s still going and I’m proud to be part of its success.”
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