The Bridge Project kicks off expansion plans with a move to AFC Sudbury

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St Peter's Sudbury community venue logo

The Bridge Project and AFC Sudbury, two of the town’s most prominent community organisations, are delighted to announce they will be working together to establish a hub at King’s Marsh and develop a thriving future for both partners. The Bridge Project is also in discussions with the Churches Conservation Trust to develop a future partnership at St Peter’s to establish a hospitality offering in the heart of Sudbury, ensuring the charity retains a town centre presence. This ambitious strategy will unite the AFC Sudbury and The Bridge Project around three central themes: health and wellbeing, training and development, and community.

Following the decision to sell their existing site in Gainsborough Street, The Bridge Project, which assists disadvantaged adults in the local community, will be making use of the extensive facilities at AFC Sudbury to widen its impact on the Sudbury area and its surrounding villages. The move was driven by the charity’s extensive growth in recent years, and to accommodate future plans for modernising and expansion that will be revealed in due course. The Bridge Project’s new home at The Clubhouse will provide the ideal facilities for the organisation to not only run but expand on their existing range of services. This forms part of The Bridge Project’s aim to put adult learning disability training and activities at the front and centre of everything that they do. This includes culinary training, food and drink services for football related activities, lunch delivery services, events, their dementia café, and pottery activities for students. Their popular ‘paint your own’ pottery for the public will also be back by popular demand.

The Bridge Project will develop an unused area of land known as the ‘triangle’ at King’s Marsh, which is located at the far end of the existing football pitch. This will be used as a site for classrooms, a vegetable and herb allotment, and a food and drink kiosk. The kiosk will create a link from the town to King’s Marsh, providing a much-needed food and drink outlet for walkers and members of the public who use the scenic Valley Trail.

AFC Sudbury, also in a key phase of growth, will dedicate its resources to expanding its training provision through the on-site academy, leaving its hospitality facilities in the capable hands of The Bridge Project’s staff, volunteers, and students. While the transition to the AFC Sudbury venue is in motion, The Bridge Project’s café at Gainsborough Street will reopen to the public in the next few weeks, utilising the outdoor courtyard at the rear of the property to welcome customers back in a Covid-safe environment.

The partners are working together to broaden and enhance the offering at King’s Marsh and to extend the social impact of the partners for the benefit of the community and customers. By collaborating, they will pool their expertise and resources in order to develop sustainable income streams. In a financial climate where funding is becoming more challenging to obtain, the partners feel that this is a positive way of working to cultivate a sustainable future for their organisations.

The Bridge Project will still be very present in the centre of Sudbury with aims to operate a café within St Peter’s in the future in addition to their existing retail premises at Bazaar in Gainsborough Street.  St Peter’s is the subject of a £2.5 million Churches Conservation Trust regeneration project funded by the National Lottery Heritage which will see investment in much needed repair and conservation work and the installation of toilets and other improvements, alongside a broadened program of events and activities. The outline business plan includes provision of a community enterprise café, which will ensure regular open hours and bring additional social wellbeing value to St Peter’s. Plans for a Bridge Project mobile catering service are also in motion to support outside events in the local area.

These expansion plans will require more volunteers, particularly those with a catering background, and The Bridge Project is therefore welcoming enquiries from people who would like to contribute their time to an extremely worthwhile cause.

Alli Burke, Development Officer at the Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), says:

“The CCT strategy is all about supporting the community to use and love these important and historic buildings.  We’re delighted that our developing plans around this future partnership will provide a great opportunity for our organisations to work together for the benefit of the community, to help safeguard the future of St Peter’s, and to see The Bridge represented in the heart of the town.”

Andrew Long, Chairman at AFC Sudbury, said:

“For AFC Sudbury, this partnership is a natural extension of our position at the centre of the local community, supporting the health and wellbeing of everyone, irrespective of ability, gender or race. Our new partners share this basic ethos and we are delighted that we are able to work more closely together to provide that much needed community support, especially during these most difficult of times.”

Paul Mackman, Chair of Trustees for The Bridge Project, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for three of Sudbury’s most prominent community organisations to work together to enhance their social impact. At The Bridge Project, we are absolutely determined to get our students back at the centre of what we do – and front of house in our cafés – as the Covid restrictions start to ease.”

These developments are the start of a wider expansion strategy for The Bridge Project which include longer term plans for an enhanced town centre presence. They are committed to supporting the Sudbury and local community for many years to come.

To find out more about The Bridge Project’s ethos and goals, visit the About Us page.

Images courtesy of Mackman.