In the 1970s a group of Christian people came together – as a voluntary group under the leadership of David Whittington, the Vicar of Stockton, to create a soup run. Using Church premises as their base, they offered blankets and hot food to the homeless men living rough in the Stockton –on –Tees area.
Such was the need and demand that by the early 1980s the group had taken a house at 41 Hartington Road in the town, where they set up an administrative office and occupied, under licence, a semi derelict building at 50-56 Bridge Road, then owned by British Railways. The group became a registered charity and took the name Stockton Churches Mission to the Single Homeless Ltd (a limited company), the founder members were of most Christian faiths. From the beginning membership was to be open to every faith.
By the mid 1980s the main building was converted to basic accommodation and men were given bed and breakfast, developing to a full scale, although very basic, hostel service. This involved full time staff, greater administration and raising of funds.
Originally money was raised by donation and a ‘levy’ on the local Churches, but it became apparent that assistance to board and lodging was available to the homeless (and jobless) users of the hostel who themselves were able to contribute.
In 1987, the main building was purchased and by 1992 a major extension was built. During the mid 1990s number 48 Bridge Road was taken (it had previously been intended for use as a museum but this had not materialised) and renovated at a cost of £400,000. Thereafter, until the present date, the building has been continually improved and the service has been upgraded.
On April 14th 2014 Bridge House opened its doors for the first time to homeless women. There had been limited supported accommodation in the area for single homeless females. Our vulnerable women were living on the streets, sofa surfing or residing in Bed and Breakfasts. Some were trapped in prostitution, victims of abuse, embedded in drug culture. They need our accommodation and support as much as our male residents.
SCMSH Ltd now provides good quality supported accommodation for up to 28 homeless individuals.
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