The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope charity has been helping homeless people to turn their lives around since 2009.

Based on Melton Street in Leicester, the charity provides up to 100 early breakfast servings for rough sleepers per week and almost 10,000 meals per year to the homeless and vulnerable, as well offering a range of specialist support services including mentoring and mental health wellbeing. 

Like most charities, The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope is restrained by finances. Although successful at bidding for new projects, funding core costs is impossible.

Always keen to explore new funding opportunities, the charity attended VAL's Funding Fair, an event designed to help local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations learn more about how they can seek support through social investment from fnders like the Key Fund - a social investor that provides flexible grant and loan packages to support VCS organisations, social enterprises and charities. 

Keith Lawson-West, Trustee at The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope says: 

“We wanted to set up a social enterprise to cover our core costs. The surgery at VAL was pivotal to this vision by introducing us to Key Fund. With their help, we got our social enterprise – ‘The Bridge to Hope’, a wholly-owned Community Interest Company (CIC) - up and running quickly. 

They’ve supported us in setting up a mobile coffee wagon to help raise funds and we’re also converting an ice-cream trailer to a second coffee wagon.”

Ernie - the mobile coffee wagon - was believed to be the first of its kind in the charity sector outside of London. Ernie is a converted milk float and was generously donated to the charity by local dairy Kirby & West. 

It’s been based daily in Victoria Park in Leicester, near to the entrance to the University of Leicester and has also appeared at events, launches and festivals across Leicester. All proceeds from sales go towards supporting the various specialist services offered by the charity for the city’s homeless community.

In 2018, The Bridge – Homelessness to Hope received another funding boost from the Star Trust to convert an old ice cream van which is now called Eric, and was also donated by the dairy. Both vehicles are available to hire for events as well as attending local festivals, community days, etc., so look out for them at locations across Leicester. 

Please contact coffee@leicesterbridge.org if you’re interested in booking Eric or Ernie for one of your events.

You can also find out more on the Bridge to Hope Coffee Facebook page.