The Bridge Leicester - Homelessness to Hope

What we do at The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope

We are located at 43 Melton Street, Leicester. Leicester has 22% of the population living in income deprived households and our Centre is based in an area of the City which suffers the results of high levels of poverty. Our clients are amongst the most marginalised people in the City and often have other complex issues in addition to, or as a direct result, of being homeless. Some will have been excluded from mainstream services or do not access them because they feel stigmatised.

We began our mission to the disadvantaged in 2009 when a group of local Christians started providing an outreach ‘Soup Run’ service to homeless people in Leicester. Today our volunteers come from many backgrounds and religions; we accept everyone, regardless of faith. We all have a common goal­ to help those who are on the street to move from despair to hope. Since 2009, we have grown to now deliver various specialist services ourselves, alongside an expanded hot food service.

As we have so many volunteers, we are able to offer a ‘front line’ service at a minimal cost as well as providing opportunities for our volunteers to gain experience.

Our work supports the aims of the Leicester Homelessness Strategy (2012), which stressed that:

“A model needs to be developed to ensure homeless people can access opportunities to turn their lives around”

Our work also fits closely with the expressed aims of the Leicester Adult Social Care Commissioning Strategy (2015) to:

“Support people’s independence through ‘simple’ services rather than waiting until people hit a crisis point.”

Our overall long term strategic aim is to work with our partners to develop The Bridge Homelessness to Hope into a ‘hub’ centre where local agencies can deliver their services in an accessible, welcoming and non-judgemental environment.

The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope is an outreach to the lost and lonely of Leicester, to the homeless, and to those who just have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Watch our short video where Kath describes what we do.

History of The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope

In 2008, the Salvation Army stopped its soup run in the city to move to South Wigston. A few people who volunteered on the soup run realised that there was still a need for support in the city and so made arrangements to serve food and offer clothes from a base at Bishop Street Methodist Church. The service ran on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons and the number of regular volunteers increased to 11. In 2009, The Bridge Homelessness to Hope was registered as a charity with several Trustees, including founding trustee’s Keith and Kath Lawson-West, and Steve Owen, who is still a Trustee today.

The Bridge Homelessness to Hope worked with Leicester City Council on its first night shelter then began running emergency winter night shelters at churches for the next few years. We forged close links with churches, the Salvation Army, The Light project, Pera Melton and Christian group, Agape. These organisations supported us with funding, volunteers and locations for the night shelters.

In 2012, we moved the service from the Methodist Church to the Salvation Army Kildare Street enabling us to provide shelter for more people and also hot meals, cooked by students at Leicester College. In 2013 we appointed our first member of staff – a mentoring project leader, shortly followed by the appointment of Patrick Harris as our Outreach Worker. The following year, after raising £32,000 to go towards re-purposing the building, we moved again to our current location at Melton Street and agreed a nine-year lease. We also we launched our mobile coffee wagon, Ernie and in 2018 we added a former ‘ice cream’ caravan Eric to our coffee fleet.

Today, we have three full-time and three part-time members of staff. We offer a full range of support services with a focus on physical and mental wellbeing, from hot meals (in excess of 18,000 per year), hot showers and clothes to mentoring programmes and health (we hold quarterly health awareness days in addition to our day-to-day health support), and legal advice. We are an active member of the Leicester Homelessness Charter. It is our belief that the problems of homelessness cannot be resolved without addressing issues around mental health.

Meet the Team

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David Fawcett
Executive Operations Manager
I am responsible for managing the charity’s team of staff and volunteers, helping with fundraising activities, and expanding the food servings and specialist support services available for the city’s homeless community. I am also a minister at my local church in Leicester and have been a board member for the Sharp (Shelter Housing Aid and Research Project) homeless charity for seven years.
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Patrick Harris
Team Leader and Outreach Worker
I have had personal experience with homelessness and know first hand how isolating it can feel without the right support. The charity's mission is to provide support and guidance to the homeless in getting their lives back on track - something which is extremely close to my heart and I couldn't think of a more rewarding role.
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Lea Sutherland
Mentor Project Coordinator
I joined in August 2017 and took on this exciting challenge of coordinating the Mentor Project. I was attracted to The Bridge Homelessness to Hope because I believe that helping your neighbour - whoever they may be - is ultimately the best way of creating healthy, safe and peaceful communities. I see this project as a real life-line for so many people who walk through our doors. I am proud to be part of this project and am excited to see what results will come of it.
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Bethany Warsop
Volunteer Coordinator
Without our compassionate, dedicated volunteers we cannot function. It's my priority to provide support and guidance to this amazing group of individuals who offer hope and give their time to those who really need it. I am proud to be a part of a project that seeks to change the lives of disadvantaged people in Leicester, and who strives to create secure, harmonious and happy communities within our city.
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Karen Hodson
Case Worker
Many years ago, I was homeless and experienced the hopelessness that comes from being in that position. My role here gives me the opportunity to support and empower guests to tackle their issues and feel part of society again, to provide hope. I feel that it is important to see the good in people and create a space where a person can feel safe and be themselves. I believe that here at The Bridge, we do this.
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Jo Leslie
Project Support Worker
Having previous experience of homelessness, I have some insight into some of the issues homeless people face. I am particularly indebted to those people who supported me during that difficult time and who got me back on the path back towards securing permanent accommodation and employment. Consequently, I feel passionately that everyone, regardless of their situation, deserves to be treated with dignity and grace.
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Steve Owen
Chair
I was attracted to The Bridge, Homelessness to Hope, because as a charity, it helps the neediest members of our society in various ways - food, clothes and companionship. Witnessing guests turn their lives around and become positive contributors to our society is such a great feeling.
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Huw Francis
Trustee, Secretary to The Board
I took early retirement just over five years ago and wanted to do something positive in the community. I initially helped out at their Night Shelter and I quickly took over admin responsibilities as well. I also took over work as the Volunteer Co-ordinator. A year or so later I became a Trustee.
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Rebecca Brown
Trustee
I began my nursing career in 1989 and have worked as Chief Operating Officer at a number of hospitals. My proudest accomplishment was being awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for Services to Nursing - I believe that you should never stop pushing yourself, to reach your goals, but always have time for others too. I am a keen supporter of The Bridge, and now feel honoured to be a trustee of this wonderful charity. I have seen first hand the challenges faced by homeless people, and this organisation is making a real difference for the homeless people of Leicester.
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Dr Girish Kunigiri
Trustee
I am a consultant psychiatrist in Leicester. I am passionate to help the homeless who are often neglected in the society, and subsequently have little access to support. I have developed the five-year mental health strategy at The Bridge Homelessness to Hope to empower and to re-integrate the homeless back into the community.
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Jonathon Holder
Trustee
I am the Pastor of the Church that meets at The Bridge on Saturdays. We run the Saturday feeding service and we wanted to get further involved with the great work that The Bridge is doing within the community.
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Phil Baker
Trustee
I’ve worked with different charities for many years – usually in the health sector, related to my role as a doctor. I have been medical advisor to several small charities and never cease to be impressed with the time, effort and commitment of selfless volunteers.
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Simon Gribbon
Trustee
I am a director at the Leicester-based PR and marketing agency, Sandstar Communications and was introduced to The Bridge via the Leicestershire Cares ProHelp programme. I am responsible for raising awareness about the charity and its services through PR, marketing and developing the charity's website.

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