Well, what can I say? As I sit in our office typing this end of year summary, I have a lot to reflect on; it’s been quite the year for Bridge the Gap. At the start of this year I thought about what my focus would be for 2019 and I decided to make that community, it is where my heart lies and why I made that leap of faith to found Bridge the Gap in 2017 – I feel that, as a team, we have certainly moved mountains to make that happen.
I started the year on my own and end it with a fantastic team beside me. When Nikki and I met for the first time I knew that she was the person I wanted to walk this walk with me, her passion and commitment to working in a proactive way blew me away. Nikki’s work in the NHS means that she is reminded daily of the importance of the work we do at Bridge the Gap and, put simply, it wouldn’t have grown without her.
We are in more schools than we could have imagined, have developed more workshops and have made so many fantastic connections and relationships with the wonderful families that we work with, all the support and feedback has spurred us on.
There have been some lows. There has been more than a couple of weeks where I have felt like giving up, as the feelings of overwhelm engulfed me, as the financial strain, policies, insurance, accounts and managing work and home life all felt too much; fortunately I have had people to pick me back up so I can get back on the right path. As we have got so much busier, balls have been dropped, emails have been missed and I have beaten myself up over this time and time again but I have learnt I am human and it was an indicator that we needed more help. Enter our volunteers.
Our fantastic team of volunteers has grown, from our wonderful email marketing manager Jan, committed online ambassador (and tea pourer) Clive to our new volunteers Sarah and Liz which gives us hope and more support to enter 2020 with. Our lovely student Alex who has been a breath of fresh air and opened our eyes to the value (as if we needed reminding) of creative arts in supporting our well-being.
For the first time this year we had to start a waiting list for 1:1 support so we were thrilled to appoint Laura to the team as a community mental health practitioner who will start working with children in January…she’s a fantastic and welcome addition to Bridge the Gap and I can’t wait for all of you to get to know her. Our wonderful accountant and supporter from Vibrant Accountancy Bev Wakefield who has guided me with so much patience and compassion - she doesn’t mind me putting my head in my hands as she tells me what I have to do next (at least she doesn’t make me feel like she minds!)
We end the year in our first offices, a lovely therapeutic and practical space to have sessions with parents and children. It was a leap of faith but seeing as Nikki’s motto is, “Let’s just do it!” it felt like the leap wasn’t too far and it was absolutely the right decision to make.
We end the year with not just one, but two donations that have helped us to start 2020 without the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have had 3 new laptops purchased for our service, priceless and will make my life so much easier (and quicker) next year, I haven’t the words to explain what those donations felt like and what it meant. Coming from families we have supported in one way or another it means even more – thank you from the bottom of my heart to them both.
So, I find myself at the end of this year writing about how I now run a non-profit organisation, how with Nikki we are building a team of staff and volunteers committed to making a positive impact in our own community, and I’ve learnt how we NEVER stop learning and that I would never want to either. I’ve been reminded time and time again that resilience comes from feeling and experiencing difficult emotions and experiences but also by reminding yourself that those moments pass and that with positive RELATIONSHIPS around you, it’s entirely possible to get up time and time again.
Tonight, I down tools for the Christmas break which means things might go a bit quiet online, but I really need this break to be with my family to recharge my batteries; thank you for your understanding with this. Please do visit the website for information on how to access support should you need it over the holidays.
Whatever your contribution has been to Bridge the Gap has been this year, I want you to know we appreciate and value you, you’ve helped it become Bridge the Gap Child Mental Health Ltd and together as a team we pledge to do all we can in the next 12 months to grow and offer more.
Thank you and we all wish you a restful and peaceful Christmas and New Year.