Future of men's group in doubt

BRIDGING the Gap, a not-for-profit service which runs a men’s resource centre in Coffs Harbour, faces a bleak future if it’s unable to gain financial support from the community.

The service, founded locally in 2005, assists men who are down on their luck by offering counselling, support and legal advice.

Up until now it has been run entirely on goodwill.

A generous benefactor was covering Bridging the Gap’s rent for its Little Street office but since his recent passing, the service has been left in financial limbo.

Desperate to keep the men’s centre open, chief executive officer Jean Clayton has made a plea for community support through tax deductible donations.

“This organisation consists of professional and community service workers who are volunteering their time and efforts to assist in addressing an urgent need among males in our community,” Ms Clayton said.

“Recent State Government statistics have revealed that suicide and homelessness for males on the Mid North Coast are the highest in the state.

“Most of these men are victims of marital or relationship breakdown and have suffered emotional and physical abuse, with no support or knowledge on how to obtain assistance.

“Bridging the Gap was established to address this void in the community.”

It also helps local men in trouble with the law or those overwhelmed by gambling, drug or alcohol dependency, even arranging temporary accommodation.

Local solicitor Bryony Barber said Bridging the Gap programs have changed the lives of some of her clients, supporting them as they face court-imposed bail conditions and custodial sentences.

“Statistically there’s research showing offenders released from the prison system are most likely to reoffend. Bridging the Gap aims to address this problem, offering and delivering support mechanisms to these people rather than the alternative, the big stick,” Ms Barber said.

She said Probation and Parole and sitting court magistrates have allowed defendants and offenders to undertake counselling and anger management through the service.

But until its financial security can be secured, plans for upcoming programs have been placed on hold.

To assist Bridging the Gap contact Jean on 6650 9953 or email: admin@bridgingthegapcoffs.com.au

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