The idea of a town centre Christian presence, a bridge into the heart of our community,
was first discussed in 1997 at a meeting of Willenhall church leaders. In September
that year, a broad vision was agreed at an open consultation meeting.
A steering group met through the next twelve months, looking at options, creating
policies and seeking funding sources. In December 1998, one of the partner churches
took the lead by renting a stall in the local indoor market hall, selling ‘charity’
items and ‘testing the water’.
In Oct. 2001 we moved into our current premises, a three storey Victorian mid-terrace
shop. After fitting out, we opened to the public the following month.
The work-load increased as more and more people came to us for help. In 2006, we
took on a part-time shop supervisor to give better support and organisation to the
volunteers. Today, we are running with the excellent support of a team of forty or
Our aim is unchanged since inception:
This was an immediate success. Many shoppers enjoyed stopping for a chat, appreciating
the friendly atmosphere and affirming conversations with the volunteer staff from
Two years later we took on a full time manager, largely paid for by a three year
Church Urban Fund grant. Part of the manager’s brief was to find a suitable shop
building in the Town, to provide more space to enable a increasing range of activities
and some private space where personal confidences might be discussed with customers.
There was nowhere on the market stall for this to happen.
As the Project grew, it became clear that the loose association of churches, which
then existed and which oversaw the project, was not sufficient. The churches needed
to become a properly constituted body and we needed to register as a charity. Over
time, these were put in place. Bridging the Gap continued to expand and improve its
‘To be church among the people . . . engaging with folk in their day to day lives
and issues. To be on hand to befriend, support and care’.
The example set by Jesus Christ is our inspiration.