Bridge Project in Sudbury praises support of community following launch of new café at Stour Valley Business Park
Six months ago, the Bridge Project was left reeling after losing £10,000 to fraud – but, with the opening of its new café this week, the charity says it is optimistic for the future.
The Sudbury-based social enterprise officially launched its new café on Stour Valley Business Park on Tuesday, after forming an agreement with the park’s owner to run the business seven days a week.
The venue is intended to provide opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged adults to learn new life skills, as well as enable the charity to expand its meal delivery service.
It marks an important milestone for the Bridge Project, which had feared that it could not afford to expand its services as planned, after it fell victim to an online scam towards the end of 2018.
Jo Searle, the charity’s chief executive, told the Free Press: “With a lot of support from the Stour Valley Business Park and the amazing support of the local community, we are now able to move some of these plans forward. A few months ago, I thought we would not be able to.
“This is hugely important on a number of different facets. What we will be able to do is offer placements for people to work in this environment.
“It’s early days, but who knows? If business is good, we will be able to do more things. As long as business is viable, we can provide opportunities for people.
“It’s just really exciting and I know a lot of customers are eager.”
She added that, in addition to increasing the number of meal deliveries, the social enterprise is aiming to gradually expand the service’s reach.
Deliveries are currently made for people living in Sudbury, Long Melford, Cornard and Great Waldingfield, but Ms Searle said the Bridge Project hopes to be able to serve residents in places like Lavenham and Clare in the future.
She also praised the continued backing of the wider community since the charity was dealt a harsh blow by the scam last year, stating it has received a number of large unsolicited donations to help cover the money it lost.
In March, a fundraising event held at St Peter’s in Market Hill, which included live music and head shaves by several Bridge Project volunteers and staff, brought in more than £4,000.
“The community has been absolutely amazing,” said Ms Searle. “People really got behind us, because the loss of that money put a big strain on our finances.
“It makes us feel that Sudbury and the surrounding area is a really good place to be when all of the chips are down.”
To find out more about the charity, go to www.thebridgeproject.co.uk.