The Valley Church purchased the Bridge building in 1996, and opened to the public in 1998, to meet both the needs of the Church and to provide services to the community. Over the last few years, these community services, aiming above all to love people and express God’s love to them, have included youth work (after school drop-in centre, exam revision groups, sleepovers, Friday night youth groups), a family friendly coffee shop, a parent and toddler group, debt counselling, personal counselling, washing and laundry facilities for the homeless, distribution point for the Foodbank, a drop-in centre for the elderly, town ministers’ fraternal, rehearsal space for community productions, international student outreach. These projects have been adapted over time to meet the changing needs.
The youth work has largely moved to bigger premises at the warehouse (formerly operated by ‘Kids Church’ now by The Andover Vineyard Church). Facilities for the homeless have increased, with the addition of a drop-in for simple meals and some help with forms and letters. Our partnership with the Foodbank has grown and we anticipate providing a simple meal and a listening ear for those picking up food boxes. We are delighted that ‘Oakbank’ have decided to use the Bridge for their pregnancy counselling service. Alpha courses and marriage courses along with other less well-known Christian courses take place in the Bridge on a regular basis.
Many other charitable organisations use the inexpensive facilities to hold AGMs, conferences, drop-ins, training sessions and regular meetings. These include Age Concern, Advocacy Alliance, Mencap, Crosslink, Foodbank, Frontline, Livability, Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Sanctuary Housing, as well as many local churches.
Over the years the Bridge has been the venue for lots of parties too. For some we have catered and for some only the room has been needed. Some have been organisations and some have been families. There have been birthdays, baptisms, weddings, anniversaries, successes, welcomes, farewells, reunions, funerals, Christmases, new years – celebrations of every type.
The Valley Church also uses the Bridge for prayer, worship and celebration.