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Support project continues thanks to new funding

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The Stratford Link project, a unique support initiative which runs from the Buzz Café in Henley Street, will continue its good work thanks to new funding from Stratford Citizen Advice Bureau (CAB) and Stratford Town Trust.

Helping nearly 20 local residents every Tuesday and Thursday from 10am till 1pm, the Stratford Link project offers advice and support for people facing what is known as ‘social exclusion’; which could include homelessness, alcohol dependency, substance misuse and financial difficulty. 

Organised and run by leading social business Bromford, the free to attend drop-in provides food and drink for those using the service as well as access to computers and the internet. There are also one to one sessions available with Bromford support workers, the local Housing Advice Team and ESH Works substance misuse service.

The project also organises courses such as gardening and song writing, as well as allowing local community members facing homelessness a chance to meet with support workers from Midland Heart’s rough sleeping team.

Launched in June 2013 with help from Stratford District Council, Warwickshire Police and the Stratford Town Trust, the project can now continue to support the community for a further 12 months thanks to additional funding from Stratford CAB and Town Trust’s Reach Out and Help Project.

55 year-old Jill from Trinity Mead is one person helped by the Stratford Link project. Before using the service Jill was homeless, using her car as her home, while also battling an alcohol dependency issue. Having heard about the service from her support worker in May 2012, she decided to go along and see if it helped her.

She said, “I started going along because I felt very isolated and had very little in the way of a support network.  I also had no income coming in and the offer of a meal kept me going during a very difficult period of my life. 

“The project has been great in helping me to meet new people, and has also helped me finally get my own home, as well as having a big part to play in improving my mental state and encouraging my recovery from alcohol addiction.

“As well as being able to attend course like gardening and get advice on finding a home, I’ve even had the opportunity to give something back through volunteering opportunities.”

Jill believes the drop-in style service has been her lifeline, helping get her life back on track.

She said, “It has given me back my self worth and confidence. I’ve been able to rebuild positive relationships with my children and I’m trying to get back into work, either back into the finance sector, which is my background, or as a support worker.

“Without the Stratford Link Project I dread to think where I would be. The project has been fantastic and without it I would definitely not be where I am now. I am so grateful for all the help I have received and I now truly feel doors have opened for me to lead a more positive life.”

Bromford senior support worker John Wilde, who set-up the Stratford Link Project, believes the project has only grown thanks to the teamwork between partner organisations. He said, “We work in partnership with a lot of agencies, but it’s having conversations with the local community and businesses that has really helped us grow.

“Stratford District Council approached us to start an alternative initiative for those who lost their lifeline when the Salavation Army closed down in April 2012, and have been a massive supporter ever since.

Stratford Council used Bromford’s service to offer housing advice for those who either wouldn’t or couldn’t visit a council office. John added, “The council decided that without the Stratford Link Project, there would be a core group of chaotic and vulnerable people in the town who would become even further removed from mainstream services.”

John is still looking to grow the service further over the next year, and will be meeting with other local service providers and housing associations in February to encourage more people to get involved now funding has been extended.

For more information on either attending the Buzz Café or working with Bromford on the project, call senior support worker John Wilde on 07834 147801 or email john.wilde@bromford.co.uk.

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