The Abingdon Bridge is leading the way in championing the wellbeing and mental health of young people across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse. They received the Queens Award for Voluntary Services in 2019.
They received £5,000 from the Police Property Act Fund in November 2018. The Fund is jointly managed by the PCC and Chief Constable and is distributed to local community and voluntary groups. It is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, including seizures from criminals, and is distributed twice a year.
The Abingdon Bridge worked with 18 people through their GYM programme. The concept was to target young people at risk of crime, and engage them in positive opportunities. Many vulnerable young people like the sound of the project as they believe 'it will make them stronger'.
The objective is to give them a focus, a sense of meaning and get them using their bodies in a healthy way. The project aims to support young people to channel and express their emotions and feelings in a safe, healthy way.
"There is no better feeling in the world when you smash our Personal Best. I have learned that the gym is a bit like life, the harder you work the more you progress. There's no cheating in here." Lee, 16
Healthy lifestyles mentoring
The Abingdon Bridge provided 89 1:1 healthy lifestyles mentoring sessions. Young people, who have experienced and witnessed hell, find it hard to talk about their feelings. These sessions helped both young men and women find themselves, make sense of their emotions and learn strategies to regulate themselves.
"Having somebody to talk to each week has made a huge difference. I thought I was a bad man, I wanted to impress the older's and make a name for myself. I don't need that in my life. I have knuckled down and got the GCSE to get into college. Holly has supported me to understand my anger and sadness better. I am still no angel, but I am trying and am more aware of my triggers." Zee, 16
The Abingdon Bridge were able to deliver educational workshops to 256 young people. This was done by visiting different community groups and a local school.
"The workshop was real...hearing real-life stories made me listen. The one thing that I could hook onto was that most people who take risks are generally fearful. They are scared of the unknown...I know that's why I went off the handle, I couldn't see a future." JJ, 18
"The workshop has defo made me think about the way I use social media, so much trouble starts on there, I cannot believe how many people are addicted to their phones.. I also know so many people who send pics and talk to people they have never met, defo not doing that again after today.” Saz, 15
Healthy cooking sessions
TAB were able to provide 27 healthy cooking sessions for young people living in the Saxton Road area.
“Pats quality… you can have a joke with her, you know she’s going to be here every week, always smiling, she’s even brought her friends along and they couldn’t believe how well we all got on. The lads want to cook for them one day...if Pat lets us.” Em, 15
"I love seeing the boys - I heard so much bad stuff when I arrived in the area. These are good lads, hearts of gold. I shed a tear when Charlie offered to walk me home when it was dark one night. They clearly need guidance and direction. I am pleased to give it. It was also good to hear they are going home and cooking nutritious meals for their families." Pat, volunteer in her 70's
Participants were asked to complete both a pre and post evaluation survey:
- 89% of participants said they were less likely to participate in risky behaviours and feel better equipped to keep safe
- 79% felt they had increased aspirations and are more likely to engage with other community projects
- 84% felt they have a better sense of emotional wellbeing and better ways of coping when they feel angry or sad
Impact of Covid-19
They have had to remodel service delivery, in response to Covid–19. Currently, they are offering the following via video conferencing:
• 1:1 Counselling and Healthy Lifestyle Sessions
• Parent workshops on 'Overcoming your child’s fears and worries'
• Virtual gym sessions, anxiety and stress-busting workshops
They have also distributed 250 wellbeing packs, with another 100 already pre-ordered
Created with images by Devin Avery - "untitled image" • Victor Freitas - "untitled image" • Jenny Hill - "Trail running" • Nils Stahl - "untitled image" • Clem Onojeghuo - "Street Food in a Wok" • Clay Banks - "untitled image"