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HomeArrow NewsArrow Bridges service helps with social isolation and mental health

Bridges service helps with social isolation and mental health

Bridges secures funding for next 5 years

A Norwich-based support service to help people to manage their mental health continues to be led by St Martins. ‘Bridges’ is a well-established service that has been running in Norwich for over 30 years, most recently under the direction of St Martins, which hold sessions at their training centre on Westwick Street over three days every week.

The service is designed to improve social inclusion, and increase confidence and self-awareness through a variety of proactive recovery interventions. This involves one-to-one and group support from qualified team members who assist people on specific issues and help them set personal goals.

An important aspect of Bridges is increased engagement in social activities and confidence building. People who attend Bridges take part in activities such as cooking, art, snooker and music therapy and there are regular outings, including history walks, trips to the beach and museums. All the members of Bridges are over 18 and referred by a support worker, their GP or another health professional.

Head of Community Services for St Martins Lucy Bone said, “Social isolation is a big factor for some of the people we support, which is why Bridges is so beneficial. Mental health support is needed now more than ever. We are delighted that the impact of the services has been acknowledged and that funding has been extended for another five years. At St Martins we are pro-active and recovery-based and it is a joy to see people achieve their goals and successfully manage their mental health.”

“Bridges is a place of acceptance with no big expectations on people. We know that sometimes just getting out of the house is the biggest battle for somebody. We ask people how they would like to be supported and frequently refer to other partners and services in the city to ensure each person receives the best support we can offer.”

The service is commissioned by NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) and has been run by St Martins since 2018

William Snagge, Senior Programme Manager, at the ICBs Strategic Commissioning Mental Health Team said ‘the Bridges services provides important support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community, as part of the Integrated Care Boards (ICB) wider (and transforming) mental health community offer in Norwich.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Bridges team, clients who use the service, colleagues from the ICBs Norwich locality team, and other system partners, to support the ongoing development and evolution of this valued provision’.

Members of Bridges have the opportunity to complete personal development courses for example food hygiene, and mental health awareness. They are supported to access volunteering opportunities and employment.

The impact of the service is far-reaching, not only for those that attend regularly, but for the local community as the service helps avoid unplanned acute admissions to hospital as well as homelessness prevention

The peer support element of the group is crucial to the members. Long-standing member Kevin Carver said “I have been coming to Bridges for many years and what is brilliant is when you are flat on your back and lost in nothingness Bridges is the place you want to be it is so important that we can all have this place to go if it wasn’t for Bridges I don’t know where I would be. We rely on Bridges. It’s our structure.”

Read more news stories here: News

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