Bridging the gap; managing more than just facilities

Due to the nature of our jobs, we are lucky enough to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds and walks of life. Our schools and health centres become an extension of our team; we build relationships and even sometimes make friends.

We may be most well-known for our presence in schools and health centres across the region, but every now and again we get to work with unique clients in niche sectors, Forward at The Bridges being one of them.

Established in 2004 and run by The Forward Trust Charity, The Bridges provide a safe, intimate, and comfortable environment in which to help men turn their lives around.

The Bridges is a residential rehabilitation centre based in Hull, providing full-time specialist drug and alcohol addiction services for men. All staff are experts in helping previous offenders address and recover from addiction, as well as supporting them back into society after being released from prison.

The Bridges Headquarters needed some TLC itself, so they contacted Sewell FM to see what we could do. Enter Andy, a member of our maintenance team.

Our motto is ‘People do business with people’, and that’s because we pride ourselves on the relationships we build with our clients. To us, it’s not just about getting the job done. It’s so much more than that, and the work Andy has done with the guys down at The Bridges is a perfect example of that.

On his rounds, Andy would often get talking to the men and soon discovered that because those involved in the programme live on premises, they lack any real kind of social life outside of the centre.

Treatment at The Bridges is full-time and structured into a timetable, typically lasting between three and 12 months. Support includes one-to-one and group counselling sessions, 12-step approach to addressing addiction, treatment goals, weekly meetings with the rest of The Bridges community to develop positive relationships with those within it, and help reconnecting with loved ones.

All of this is focused on life inside of the programme, and so Andy thought it would be a good idea to offer some outside support.

He decided to organise a 5-aside football match between Sewell FM and The Bridges, and the rest is history. Not only did this help the men get regular physical exercise, but it also opened opportunities for them to make friends, socialise and talk outside their other more intense counselling sessions they have as part of their programme.

A lot of the guys are shy because they are not used to being out in the real world, and so this is also a way for them to build up their confidence again after being within a hostile prison environment for so long. Many feel like they are looked down upon by members of society, but football is an even playing field and it allows everyone on there to open up, interact, and talk, without the judgement they may be so used to.

The Bridges is a place for these men to come voluntarily once they are released from prison, and people come from all over the UK to relocate and start a new life up here because of its reputation.

Barry O Shea is one such individual who graduated from The Bridges last  year, and after launching his business whilst still on the programme, he is now reaping the rewards. He said;

“When I met Andy and the other Sewell FM guys, I had already graduated and was in my transition period at The Bridges. This phase of the programme is there to help individuals integrate back into society, which can be quite difficult after a long period of time in rehab.

“Andy was (and is!) one of the driving forces behind helping not just me, but a lot of the individuals on the programme. By setting up regular football games, he enabled us to interact better with each other, as well as members of society to encourage a more seamless experience back into the “real” world.

“I have my own personal training business now which I’m really proud of – Boss Fit Academy – of which Andy is a regular! We support each other in so many ways now, and I truly consider him a friend.

“All of the Sewell men went above and beyond helping me integrate into society, as well as in getting my business up and running. They’re not just Facilities Management, they’re so much more, and I am forever grateful.”