Tony Adams MBE, the legendary former England football captain, has paid an emotional visit to The Bridges, the Hull-based residential drug and alcohol treatment centre for male ex-prisoners.
Adams, who set up his own charity Sporting Chance to help sportsmen and women struggling with addiction, said he was moved to tears by the stories he heard at the Bridges.
He commented: “I will remember my day at the Bridges for a very long time. This project has obviously changed the lives of many men and made the world a safer place. My own personal journey, before I found a solution, was mirrored in the stories of these guys and the joy I feel seeing them take their early steps into recovery, brought me to tears. And that’s ok, today.
He paid tribute to the Forward Trust, who run the Bridges, saying: “This is an outstanding project.”
Douglas Dunsmore-Dawson, chief executive of the Forward Trust, explained: “Tony has been a patron of Forward (formerly RAPt) for many years and he has been really keen to come and speak with the residents and graduates at The Bridges. It was wonderful that he was able to find the opportunity to do this.
“Obviously the lads in the rehab were really excited about his visit and Tony didn’t disappoint. We all listened to hear Tony share his incredible journey into long-term recovery (22 years now). He was fiercely honest and heartfelt and was an inspiration to us all.
“The lads were able to share some of their journeys back to Tony who, once we closed the session, made loads of time to check in with everyone, the customary selfies, autographs and he left three of his signed books for the rehab’s literature collection,” said Mr Dunsmore-Dawson.
The Bridges transforms the lives of men trapped in the cycle of addiction, drugs, crime and incarceration.
Charlie Forbes Adam, the chairman of Forward’s Yorkshire-based Fundraising Advisory Group, commented: “We were incredibly grateful to Tony Adams for taking the time to visit the Bridges and to share his moving and inspirational journey with us. It meant so much to everyone.
“Everyone connected with Forward believes passionately in The Bridges and the tremendous work it does to support ex-prisoners who are trying to rid themselves of their addiction to drink and drugs. They are also acutely aware of the funding gap, which means the public sector is unable to support The Bridges as it might.”
“The statistics speak for themselves. Over half the prison population are serving a sentence related to drug addiction, and alcohol is a factor in over half of all violent crimes. Approximately 60% of released prisoners will go on to re-offend within two years.
“In contrast, 76% of the men who completed The Bridges programme over two and a half years ago did not re-offend within a one year follow-up. It costs £45,000 to keep a prisoner for a year, but just £16,000 for RAPt’s six-month programme.”
“So every penny raised for RAPt and The Bridges actually saves money in the long term, as well as giving ex-offenders their life, health and dignity back,” added Mr Forbes Adam. “But it’s not just about raising money. We also need to raise awareness about the great work The Bridges does, especially amongst employers in the Hull region, who we want to encourage to take on graduates of The Bridges”.