Vulnerable people in Norwich get new drugs and alcohol service

A charity which transformed the lives of hundreds of vulnerable people in Norwich has held a day of celebration to mark the launch of their new drugs and alcohol service.

The Bridge welcomed Chloe Smith MP, coroner William Armstrong, the Lord Mayor of Norwich Tom Dylan and dozens of volunteers and service users to witness the birth of The Bridge initiative - a service which helps people recover from a troubled life of drug and alcohol dependency.

The event was held at the The Matthew Project on Pottergate today and was marked by a series of heart-warming speeches by service users who had put their lives back on track since visiting the charity.

Sarah Rhoades, manager of The Bridge, said: 'The aim of The Bridge initiative is to work with people holistically from helping them with housing and accommodation to giving them pillows and sheets.

'It's about connecting people to a better future. When we pull together we really can offer clients the bridge to a new life.'

The new initiative sees the charity working in close partnership with the health service, housing service and the employment service to get people away from harm and towards recovery.

It means that vulnerable people now have another place to turn to alongside the host of other services offered by The Bridge, including the needle exchange, the drop-in service, counselling and a 24 hour help line for people suffering with drink and drugs problems.

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Coroner William Armstrong said: 'The importance of their work is their ability to not just to look at the problem but the whole person. What I see in my line of work are the tragic consequences caused by drugs and alcohol. The people at The Bridge are trying to help people to turn a corner and move their lives forward.'

The Matthew Project, who work alongside The Bridge, was founded in Norwich in 1984 to help people with drug and alcohol problems. Since then, It has broadened its reach across the country to help adults, young people and those in the criminal justice system.

MP for Norwich South, Chloe Smith, said: 'The Matthew Project is well established in Norwich and Norfolk, and does strong work for people who need help.

'The new Bridge initiative is a drug interventions programme that offers help and support for those facing drug and alcohol problems. I have called in the past for measures to tackle alcohol misuse. The availability of cheap alcohol is still a serious problem in society.'

Do you have a story about a charity? Contact Ben Woods on 01603 772 439 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk