A spotlight on Bridge Foyer
Bridge Foyer recently won the team of the year award at Your Housing Group's Summer Celebration. Lauren Irving, Learning and Support Officer, and Josh (a young person who recently moved out of the foyer) share some insight into what life at Bridge is like...
Bridge Foyer is based in Chester, it only takes me 30 minutes from my house to get to work, I am lucky I don’t have to fight with busy motorways it’s such a bonus, but I do get stuck behind the odd tractor now and then.
I do a lot of 8am starts, which is sometimes difficult depending how my sassy 2year old slept the night before, and on the other hand if I can get her out of bed to pick Nanny up… yes, she’s showing traits of a teenager already.
Shifts at Bridge are rather flexible as long as the main hours are covered our manager is ok with us doing what suits, which takes a lot of pressure off working parents… and I don’t feel like such a bad mum for working full-time. When I arrive at work I head straight for the vending machine to get a can of diet coke - I know it’s a terrible vice of mine! And then I have a handover from the night supervisor to find out if anything has happened during their shift. Most of the time its been a quiet night.
Then, if its my morning to do Breakfast club I will call all the customers in the building and they head to get some Breakfast, it’s a good session because we know they have had one healthy meal to start their day.
My role at Bridge Foyer is the Learning support officer, it is my responsibility to ensure we have a Weekly Timetable of activities for our customers to get involved in. As part of the Learning Programme we do a variety of things that are run by me and the project officers, we do Cooking, Budgeting, Gym sessions, Craft and much more.
Here at Bridge, every day is different, which I love.
I could have a day planned, then something could happen and nothing I had planned goes ahead. Sometimes I am supporting ex-customers, helping street homeless who turn up and need support, liaising with external organisations, dealing with crisis on scheme, chasing people to attend appointments, having fun doing sessions, to be honest the list is endless.
I have worked at Bridge Foyer now in various roles for 10 years in January, and it’s a truly special place.
We have customers aged 16-25 who come in at times, in just the clothes they are wearing with no family or professional support at all, to watch them grow over time, then eventually manage their own tenancy in the community is incredible. I am lucky to be surrounded by such a great team of colleagues who all have the same passion, fire, focus and determination to lift our customers when they feel they can’t achieve something.
The change we see in Customers from the time we come in to when they leave and have a positive move on makes us all so proud.
"Today marks one year since I moved into Bridge Foyer Chester, it wasn’t really something I spoke about at first, due to the stigma of the place, and people thought it would be amazing to have your own place, and while it has its perks, it can be lonely and there are bad days but ultimately I can say it was the best decision I’ve ever made, it was very daunting at first as I’d heard so mashy rumours about the place but none of them are true.
The people I met became some of my best friends, who I share the craziest and best memories with, they have been there for me through the good times and bad, the staff are amazing and I can’t thank them enough for keeping me on track, especially Sherri for being such a kind heart and always being there to talk to me about anything and everything, I never thought I’d have such a connection with a staff member, and also to Janine for being a brilliant project officer and helping me with the boring bits of being an adult but also motivating me to know that anything is possible.
I feel so proud to be a part of this building and it’s mission to change young people’s lives. I learnt so many life skills that I will take to university with me, like budgeting, cooking and cleaning and I can honestly say this building has made me into a better person. I’m so grateful for my supportive family, friends & Bridge Foyer family for the best year of my life and the fact I’m moving out this week is unbelievable, but I can’t wait to start this next adventure in my life, at university, doing a course I’ve wanted to do for years - I’m finally proud of myself"