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Bridging People’s lives, Post Upheava

Bridges, a centre at St John Madder market in Norwich is a non-referral drop-in-center aimed at people, who need to pick up the pieces of their life, after its fallen apart. // Founded in 1994, the centre is aided by the Norfolk social services and administered by mental health charity Rethink. The centre will be launching an initiative in Norwich that will strive to remove the stigma, and shallowness, that follows mental illness.

The place is meant for people who are suffering, or have suffered prolonged mental illness. The ambience is friendly, non-controversial, and extremely innovative, where the ‘members’ of bridges as they are known, can engage themselves in fun games, chats, or simply put their feet up over a cup of coffee.

According to Health Minister Rosie Winterton, the new bill aimed at the mentally ill, would involve compulsory treatment for those who had undergone prolonged stay at hospitals. This is in direct contrast to previous plans of forcing people into treatment, notwithstanding cases of hospitalizations.

David Pilgrim, service manager of the centre, said: "Mental health is an under-funded area and always has been squeezed but mental health is not a quick fix. But what was bad about the bill was that I understand there was no right to treatment in it. You could be compulsorily detained but you could not telephone for help and expect to get it."

He also gave an insight into ‘Bridge’ perspectives when he said,what we aim to do is help people gain confidence to socially interact, learn skills, rediscover social skills. One of the problems with mental health is that it isolates people from their family and friends. We help them gain access to the wider community again.

Bridges is perceived by its users as a means to rejuvenation or a re-birth, opening avenues to a new life. A user of the centre said It is a place to build relationships with people over a long period. At first it felt strange b ut people are really friendly, the staff is good and it has become a place to look forward to coming to. There are different activity groups but there is no pressure to do anything you do not want to. I have come a long way since I have been coming here as someone who has suffered mental health problems. There is an understanding here about mental health that you do not get from other places. You get help.


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