The Bridgend Centre was founded in 1990 as a place for people to come to, have a cuppa and socialise with others. It has grown on this philosophy since then and continues to be a friendly and welcoming place that is accepting to all.
Our Community Kitchen and drop-in area is a welcoming environment which has recently been renovated with the support of a number of local organisations including Bollington Beer Festival, IBM and the Round Table. There may be many reasons why someone may pop into our drop-in, whether they live alone, wish to meet new friends or just to fill some time but people come here at any time during our opening hours and are welcomed by our staff, volunteers and/or other Bridgend visitors.
The community we live in has changed over time. This is evident by the loss of local shops and facilities. For many people this has no effect, such as young people who are mobile, many of whom are able to own and drive a car, and young families who have two parents, who work and carry on with their own careers, employing carers and other people.
However, for the remaining population, these changes can lead to social isolation, loss of confidence and lack of self esteem. There are high rates of divorce and many children feel the impact of marriage breakdowns and stresses of family living. Increasingly, families are scattered as members move away for better employment prospects, leaving parents with no support. Working practices have changed, resulting in people suddenly finding themselves redundant and suffering a consequent loss of status and self respect. Others retire early and some find it difficult to cope with the loss of companionship and work ethic. Stress is a widespread problem, with doctors having increased difficulty providing support networks for sufferers.
Many people in the community are too busy to spend a few minutes just talking and most families do not sit down and talk. Life seems to run at a faster pace. The outcome is that people feel lonely, frustrated, anxious, depressed and isolated, which could eventually lead to mental and physical illness.
This is where the Bridgend Centre comes in. It is the aim of the Centre to make people feel a part of the community, by offering a warm and friendly environment. People are able to just sit and chat or take part in various activities or classes. For many, it is difficult to take the first step back into the community, which is why 30% of the staff’s time is spent making themselves available to offer a welcoming smile and spend time listening and talking to everyone who walks in through the door. Children are welcomed during school holidays and activities are offered in a safe and supportive environment. Once people have visited the Centre, they often return, assured of a welcome and a feeling of being wanted.
For many, the Centre is seen as a lifeline and their only contact with others takes place here. Joining in community activities enables people to feel that they have a valuable role to play in society.
Information and advice
There is lots of information and advice available at Bridgend. We have an ‘information hub’ with lots of leaflets and material regarding local services and support organisations, tourist and heritage information. Our community workers are on hand to point people in the right direction if they need some information and advice and are also there for someone to talk to if they have any issues in their lives that they need assistance with. Whilst we are not trained counsellors or qualified advisors in specific areas, we can offer ‘a listening ear’ and point people in the right direction if they need more specialist advice, for example in areas such as welfare benefits, debt, counselling, or health services.