In a typical year we will have some 38,000 people/visits. Most will browse for a
bargain, many will stop for a friendly conversation or informal advice, while a considerable
number will take the opportunity to engage with us more deeply, seeking our help.
We run with more than forty volunteers (on rota) drawn from the churches and the
community at large.
Using a drop-in area at the rear of the shop, we give time to listen to people and,
when necessary, sign-post them to the right agency for help. Most times, though,
we have the skills and resources to help. Unlike many agencies, we do not ration
our time or commitment.
We are prepared to help people until they no longer need our support or guidance.
We also have an interview room on the ground floor and a quiet room on the first
floor, where we can offer advice, bereavement support, personal guidance, a listening
ear and the like. We work with and accommodate other groups, such as one giving support
to families with a drug-related problem and one being alcohol-dependency related.
So, if you are passing by, please do call in and say ‘hello’. We would love to meet
you ... and maybe we can help you?
Once employing more than 4,000 local people, the industry has been in terminal decline
in recent years and is now only a shadow of what it once was.
Our major lock-making factories, with well known brand names like Union, Yale, Legge,
have been demolished. Gone too is the sense of purpose that involvement in a world-wide
exporting trade gave to Willenhall people. Today, parts of the town sit high on the
scale of multiple social deprivation, impacting home and family.
In light of this, Bridging the Gap has been set up by the Churches of Willenhall
to provide one-stop help in a welcoming and familiar setting - a charity shop.
Bridging the Gap has been offering free support, direction and guidance to the people
of our town, Willenhall, for the past sixteen years. We occupy a three storey, shop-fronted
building in the Town Centre.
Willenhall is typical of many of the small, Black Country communities which developed
and grew following the 19th century industrial revolution. Each town had its own
variety of metalworking trade, that of Willenhall being lock-making.