Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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New women-only hostel offers space for recovery

June 08 2011
Project gets high praise from residents - and the police


In April, The Bridge, part of the Oasis Church Trust charity, launched the first project in Birmingham for women recovering from alcohol or drug dependency. The Timbers project can accommodate six women, and has a tailor-made support programme and daily group counselling.

Service manager Jon Smith, who has worked for The Bridge for nine years and has 15 years' experience of working with homelessness and vulnerable people with addictions, said: “Drug and alcohol addiction are an equal problem for men and women. There is less provision and support for women, but the need is the same.”

A Catholic order of nuns gave Bridge House to The Jericho Foundation, a Birmingham charity with several well-established social enterprises, to house vulnerable women with addiction issues. Bridge House receives funding from a variety of grant-making trusts and donations; Housing Benefit helps maintain the property and staff costs.

Timbers has three support workers whose main objective is to help the clients stay drug-free and rebuild their self-esteem and self-worth. The counselling groups focus on relationships concerning authority, family and personal issues. They aim to help the clients to restore themselves within relationships and within society.

Jon Smith added: “One of the biggest issues clients have is resentment, which can often cause them to relapse. This can transfer their addiction from drugs to alcohol. If they haven't dealt with past issues and how they came to be in their predicament, personal conflict will remain and will prevents recovery.”

The 12-step model is the foundation for addiction counselling and addresses conflict resolution. Anger and hostility is reduced as the clients learn to forgive themselves and others for their situation.

Adellah, 29, a client at The Bridge, is in recovery from drug addiction. She said: “There aren’t many options for women for drug dependency recovery in Birmingham, and there are long waiting lists for help. I spent three or four years trying to get off drugs and got little help from social workers, who didn’t understand my situation. I have been in and out of prison because of my addiction, and relatives are looking after my three children. I was lost, very lonely, and I forgot who I was, which fuelled my drug habit. I had more support and guidance in prison than I did on the outside - I found comfort in returning there, as I knew I would get the appropriate support. However, The Bridge is a great place to be now, and with the help and support I am getting here, I am beginning to reclaim my identity.”

Addiction dependent individuals receive spiritual and personal guidance from church-based charities that are not judgmental and understand the core need for care and recovery for each individual.

Adellah has signed up to do her GCSEs in September and would eventually like to work as a drug support worker: “It would give me job satisfaction because I can to relate to young people with drug dependency issues.”

Michaela, 23, originally from Northern Ireland, came to England four years ago to work as a mortgage adviser for the Abbey National Bank and became involved in an abusive relationship. She is recovering from heroin and crack cocaine addiction. She said: “I love it here - I feel safe. I am getting better and have managed to stay clean from drugs. The 12-step programme and group counselling are really good for me.” Michaela is looking forward to being reunited with her family for a holiday. She wishes to remain in England and has enrolled on a computer literacy refresher course in July.

The Bridge has two houses for men and one for women. The local police recently wrote to the Home Office to recommend its services. One former client was referred to The Bridge after the courts had served a Persistent Prolific Offenders action on him. After just three months, the officers assigned to watch over him when he came out of prison were impressed with his recovery. He has now settled into a home, is employed and has married.

Access is by referral only by a support worker; please email for a referral form. All residents must agree to abstain from drugs and alcohol. Residents must be in receipt of benefits or have some other means to pay for their stay.