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Bridge Project in Sudbury seeks unique housing solution for people with learning disabilities

Sudbury'Bridge Project CEO Jo Searle and Chair of'Trustees Paul Mackman'The Bridge Cafe, Gainsborough Street, Sudbury'Picture Mark Westley
Sudbury'Bridge Project CEO Jo Searle and Chair of'Trustees Paul Mackman'The Bridge Cafe, Gainsborough Street, Sudbury'Picture Mark Westley

The not-for-profit Sudbury charity The Bridge Project has launched an appeal to find a unique housing solution for two of its team.

Jo Searle, chief executive of the social enterprise which helps disadvantaged adults, says the idea is for the charity to rent a home for two people with learning disabilities and a live-in house parent.

The well-established and growing charity is on the hunt for a three bedroom home, within walking distance of the town, and says it may look for more homes it can rent in the future as a solution to housing for people with learning disabilities.

Jo, who has expanded the charity’s commercial side since she arrived two years ago, said: “There are very limited housing options for people with learning disabilities. Parents, getting older, worry what will happen to their children when they are gone. They don’t want them to be in a home.

“These days, young people with learning disabilities have very different expections too. They expect to be able to live more independently. For example, having your friends to stay is difficult in homes and assisted living situations,” she added.

Ms Searle said the social enterprise has a particularly urgent need to find a house. The single parent of one of their team members has a terminal illness, and desperately wants to find their child somewhere to live before they die.

Board of trustees chairman Paul Mackman said the idea was to find a long-term rental - perhaps someone looking for a buy-to-let investment opportunity or a landlord looking for a tenant with the security of an organisation behind it.

“The Bridge Project has always been cutting edge and we think this is a unique solution to social housing for people who need to live independently, but with live-in support.

“In a town like Sudbury, with such a community spirit, we believe there must be people prepared to do that.”

The Bridge Project was set up in 1995 and is dedicated to supporting people living with dementia, learning disabilities and mental health issues in the community.

Its café on Gainsborough Street offers freshly cooked meals and runs a dementia cafe and support group, as well as a ceramic painting facility.

The charity’s meal delivery service has doubled in size over the last two years and is now providing 50 meals a day to residents in Long Melford, Acton, Great Waldingfield and Great Cornard and Little Cornard.

In the new year, the Bridge Project will take over and run the Bazaar shop in Gainsborough Street, providing retail experience for its team members. In addition, in February it will open a pop-up cafe in St Peter’s.

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