The Bridges is a residential rehabilitation centre specifically designed for male offenders. The current residents treatment continues over the festive period. In this blog clients and staff write about spending Christmas at The Bridges
“The festive season can be a challenging time for those in recovery, even for those in the safe and secure environment of residential treatment. At The Bridges, we try to make the holidays a warm and fun occasion, as well as a beneficial therapeutic experience for all the clients in treatment.
“The day starts as normal with a check in process, in which clients can reflect on their current wellbeing and learning processes over the past 24 hours. After this, previous graduates from The Bridges return and together we prepare a Christmas feast to share. There is a strong sense of unity and everybody offers help setting the dinner table, cooking the meal and cleaning up afterwards. It is particularly special to see just how much compassion, tolerance, support and care the men show towards each other throughout the day.
The clients are able to unwrap presents and stuff their stomach with as much festive food as their waist sizes will allow. In the afternoon, staff and clients get together to take part in a number of party games in keeping with the tradition of the season. Christmas is a time where it can be difficult to be apart from loved ones, we make sure that the clients have access to phones and computers to call or skype their families.
The day ends with a check out process in the early evening, last year the men shared their sadness and gratitude for this being the first time in many years they have not been behind the prison wall.
It’s important that those staying with us during the festive season are able to realise the message that treatment and Christmas have in common – overwhelming strength can come from being part of a caring community.
We cannot think of a place we would rather spend Christmas than at the Bridges.”
Mattew Morning and Terry Marshall, Counsellors at The Bridges
“I’m Mike and I’m a addict, I have been for as long as I can remember. I’m now 29 and have been using substances from 9 years old. Xmas for me means spending time with my family, unfortunately sitting here today clean and in a rehab, I can’t remember, or pin point when my last X-mas was with my family. The last 5 years has been X-mas dinner with a load of cons, from one prison to the next.
I always used at Xmas in prison to fill the void of not being with my family. But even many years ago when I was with my family for X mas I still used as I couldn’t seem to sit in myself without some kind of substance, no love from my family was as powerful as my addiction and my obsession to use. Being sat here today in The Bridges rehab after only been out of prison for 6 weeks, things feel very different. I won’t be spending it with my family as I can’ leave the treatment, but I have gave them the best x-mas present- me being clean! That’s all they have ever wanted for me.
It is sad I can’t be there, especially as I had a choice to return to treatment for the second time. I could of got released and seen them, but I know I couldn’t of stayed clean on my own, and would of let them down and myself down yet again.
It’s so welcoming here, and my peers and counsellors are there for me- like a family. I’m in the best place I can be for me and my family this year, there will be plenty more I can celebrate X-mas with them clean and have brilliant memories this time. This is my 1st X-mass clean and I feel really positive, proud and grateful to be able to say that. This place has gave me so much, it has gave me my life back, myself back and most important my family back.
I’m really looking forward to celebrating x mas with all the people that have made it possible for me to have this. I’m only on the other end of the phone to my family and I’m looking forward to speaking to them on X-mas day and not being limited in time due to prison circumstances. I feel blessed. ”
Mike, 29, RAPt client
To find out more about RAPt and The Bridges or to make a donation to support those in recovery from addiction please visit www.rapt.org.uk/