On Friday the 8th of February, participants on the Black Country Building Better Opportunities ‘Bridges’ programme attended a glamorous awards event at the ICB banqueting suite in Wolverhampton for an evening of entertainment and awards.

The evening was hosted by local comedian and actress Tonia Daley-Campbell and consisted of live music, performed by participants on the programme who have been writing songs and performing to help them overcome mental health issues, as well as live Bhangra dancers and Dhol Player.

The main focus of the event though was the awards, which touched hearts and brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the room.

The awards celebrated individuals who have overcome complex barriers including mental and physical health, confidence and disability, to achieve their individual goals. Awards included the ‘Hidden Talent Award’ which was awarded to a young lady who, after the tragic loss of her sister, sought help from the Bridges project to enable her to achieve her goal of making wigs for the Afro-Caribbean community and the Achievement Against the Odds Award which was awarded to a gentleman who had overcome numerous health issues that had resulted from a brain injury when he was younger, and was being supported by the programme to increase his confidence to the point he is now going out more and even volunteering at the Black Country Living Museum, something that he would have previously not believed possible for him.

The programme, funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund, aims to support those with multiple and complex barriers to improve their confidence and, ultimately, move closer towards getting back into work. Since it began in 2016 the programme has helped people from across the Black Country with confidence issues, problems with mental health, homelessness, disability and long-term health issues among other barriers, to achieve personal goals. Whether it be to become more confident, learn a new skill, gain a qualification or find a job, the Bridges programme has helped over 2500 people to achieve their individual goals.

The Bridges programme is delivered by partner organisations across the region and managed by Walsall based training provider Steps to Work. The organisations that deliver Bridges were hand picked to support the programme due to their specialisms. We have organisations who specialise in supporting refugees, people with disabilities, people with visual impairments and those suffering from mental ill health amongst others, to ensure the programme can offer the services required to meet the needs of our diverse range of participants.

Project Manager Stephanie Hammond from Steps to Work said “The event was a huge success and the looks on participant’s faces as they entered the room were priceless. It was an entertaining evening and one which made the participants feel valued. Awarding their achievements meant so much to them and we hope that it helps them to confidently continue their journeys to achieving their goals, knowing that they can achieve whatever they set out to.”

Feedback from some of the award winners was very positive:

"Thank you so much for nominating me I will cherish this award forever. I had a fantastic night with you, thank you so much and I would not be where I am today without the support of the Bridges project" – Clive, Achievement Against the Odds Award Winner

"I never expected to receive an award for helping my friends and other refugees to access the support at the Refugee and Migrant Centre. When I was told that I had been nominated  for the Peer Mentor Award I felt pleased to be nominated for something I enjoy doing; helping others like I have been helped. I enjoyed the celebration event although I was feeling more and more nervous as the awards were given out. It was nice to be invited and I enjoyed spending the evening with peers.” – Shadi, Peer Mentor Award Winner

Take a look at more of the photos from the evening...