Many of the people that go to the discretionary team in need of a food parcel have underlying issues that have simply not previously been addressed. There can be a number of reasons why a person may not have enough money to buy them food. Sometimes the Job Centre may have sanctioned them for not applying for enough jobs, their landlord might have increased the cost of their accommodation, they might have been made redundant etc. In instances like these, the discretionary team will arrange for a parcel to be made up at the Food Partnership and, if they are over 25 years old, it will be delivered to the Salvation Army’s Bridge Project. Once a person collects their parcel from there, they are asked about why it is they are in need of a food parcel and then the Bridge Project helps to address those issues to stop it happening to them again. Whilst offering numerous types of support, the project also gives service users structure with classes beginning at 9am every morning and if anybody is late, they can’t attend. The Bridge Project aims to prepare people for return to work.
Beginning with breakfast, the attendees take part in a tailored itinerary that supports everyone’s needs. If someone is desperately in need of a certain type of support then it is tailored into the week’sschedule. These lessons include: money management, interview preparation, team building, health and safety training, first aid training from the British Red Cross, interview techniques and CVs, IT and employability skills and drug overdose training. Many of the participants have found these sessions to be very supportive and one man told the Salvation Army that he had saved his friend’s life with the training he had learned. Students also take courses, and earn certificates, in Maths and English to help further their employability. They also have a direct line to the Job Centre so that they can alter people’s appointments so that they can attend any morning sessions they need at the Bridge.
Upon speaking to some of the people taking part in the sessions, I came to the understanding that the project has provided a lot of emotional support to many people and has been a safe place for them to go as well as giving them something to do during the daytime. The Salvation Army does also have an outreach team who visit the homeless in Blackpool and tell them about the Bridge Project. They also provide a ‘care of’ address so that homeless members of the community can begin to start claiming benefits to get them back into work and into a home of their own. The Bridge also has facilities to help launder clothes and for people in desperate need to wash and they have a direct line to the Job Centre so that they can alter people’s appointments so that they can attend any morning sessions they need at the Bridge.