A Sudbury charity says its financial future is looking more secure thanks to the expansion of its hot meal delivery service, which is reaching more elderly and disabled people.
After taking up an offer to run a second cafe in Brundon Lane, The Bridge Project is now cooking 270 meals a week, extending the service to cover weekends.
After forming an agreement with the owner of Stour Valley Business Park, the charity has added two more people to its cafe team.
The Bridge Project was left reeling by a £10,000 fraud last year, but, thanks to the opening of the new café three months ago and the expansion of the meal service, the social enterprise has gone from strength to strength, providing more opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged adults.
Chief executive Jo Searle said: “This has been an extremely busy year so far, and I’m delighted that we have been able to respond to opportunities that have been offered to us.
“While there is a huge amount of work needed to get new things off the ground, the long-term opportunities for our clients with learning disabilities and the people who need our meal deliveries make the effort worthwhile.
“I am very lucky to have a committed and talented team around me, without whom we would not be able to keep working at securing the future of the organisation.”
Paul Mackman, chairman of the trustees, said the charity’s new cafe had proved popular with the town’s football club and organisers of events there, such as a recent Harley-Davidson club meeting.
He said the attendees said they loved the fresh food served by the cafe so much that the Harley-Davidson club had nominated The Bridge Project as its charity of the year.
“I am very proud of Jo and her team; they are working incredibly hard,” he said. “The charity is experiencing significant growth as evidenced across all our key performance indicators, which has huge social impact.
“This is all very impressive because, while the voluntary sector in general is facing a particularly challenging time, the Bridge continues to go from strength to strength,” he added.
He said the expansion of the meal delivery service meant customers were able to get freshly-cooked, hot food at weekends, rather than just during the week.
But customers also get a friendly visit and someone to chat to, especially if they have not been able to get out and about.
“In effect, it’s like a welfare check,” added Mr Mackman. “We’ve had a couple of occasions where we’ve found someone unwell, and have been able to alert the ambulance service.”
More volunteer drivers are needed for the service and the charity wants to hear from anyone who can help out from midday to 2pm. Call Becky Nicholson on 01787 313691.
Mr Mackman, pictured left, said the charity is looking to replace its delivery vans with electric ones in the future.
Its café in Gainsborough Street offers a dementia cafe and support group, as well as a ceramic painting and pottery facility. It also runs the Bazaar shop in Gainsborough Street.