The Bridge at Leigh started in November 2016.
Originally we were just a cafe supplying meals on and providing affordable surplus food.
We offered people a small basket of food for £2 and this was where the concept of the food market was born.
We now offer food at low prices to help people save on their weekly shop while saving perfectly edible food from going to landfill.
We managed to secure a grant from the Wigan Deal which bought our first refrigerated van and paid our first staff wages.
The refrigerated van was a game changer as at the time no one else had one.
We started getting food from Fareshare and were able to get much increased supplies for our food market. Tonnes of good food is wasted every year and at the same time people are struggling to afford to eat. We address these two issues by collecting food industry surplus, over production, mislabelled or for other reason would go to waste.
We now have over 3500 members and also have another shop in Bryn with over 800 members We proudly supply ‘Use Ya Loaf’ in Atherton and other pantries across the Wigan Borough helping support Wigan’s Sustainable Food Network.
In 2018 we moved into our new home here at The Avenue, Leigh WN7 1ES. We have multiple fridges and freezers throughout our market hall and are situated in a convenient location to Leigh town centre.
In November 2020 we opened our warehouse. Andy our operations manager is also an ITTSAR qualified fork lift truck trainer. We deliver the FLT training at the warehouse giving people the opportunity to train for a new career. And in December we agreed to hire an 18 tonne truck to be able to collect the quantities of food we are being offered. Our little vans will only hold 2 – 3 pallets so it meant multiple journeys when we are offered 8 pallets to pick up.
We were absolutely thrilled to have received the Queens Award for voluntary service in 2021 for all the work we have done over the years. The Queens Award is the MBE for voluntary groups, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the uk. The Bridge volunteers have also been selected for special recognition for their support to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to our mini army of volunteers who stepped up to deliver the 100’s of food hampers to all the people struggling to access food.
Sometimes we need a Bridge and sometimes we are the Bridge.
No one I know has escaped troubled waters, rough seas and challenging, scary days.
There are times in our lives when we could use a little help, and other times we are given the chance to be that help for someone else.
It really doesn’t matter where you are right now. What matters is that you remember we are stronger together, and taking a hand is just important as offering one.