Better Together was started in 2018 by its now CEO, Bridge (Birgit) Allport, who wanted to find like-minded people like herself. People she describes as ‘middle-aged teenagers’.
She wanted to support people who are unable to work, who may be disabled or going through other hardship. People who nonetheless enjoy company, a brew and a chat. Her idea was to bring the community together, for people to get to know their neighbours. So that they would feel better together, in fact.
Food parcels and grow your own
Once the group got started, local supermarkets made contact and they started to do food parcels. When the first lockdown hit, demand went up by over 400% – it was hard to keep up. Bridge and her husband were running their own painting-and-decorating business in Burnley and Preston by day and then, in the evenings, they would come back to Stoke-on-Trent to collect and deliver food parcels.
Better Together has moved further than providing food parcels. NHS cuts for infant feeding support prompted the group to offer support for new mums and parents and playgroups for pre-schoolers. Additionally, the A-Maize-Ing Grow community garden teaches people how to grow vegetables and then how to create a nutritious meal with them. It also promotes sustainability and even explains the importance of bugs to help things grow.
Better Together is growing at an incredible pace to respond to the needs of the community. Despite a number of health issues (including a brain tumour), Bridge has no plans to stop. She takes great joy in watching the community members coming together, elderly playing with the babies, teenagers chatting with older community members, new mums joining and elderly enjoying the company. This, for her, is what Better Together is about.
A new headquarters
On October 8, the group opened its brand new headquarters in a shop unit provided by Stoke-on-Tent City Council on Woodberry Close in Trent Vale.
Bridge describes the new location as offering a “community space suitable for all ages”, where “older people can pop in for a brew and a bit of company and parents can come along with their toddlers for a play date.”
The headquarters will also be a hub for all the various support activities the charity offers and will allow it to extend its reach to local communities.
The launch event was attended by Stoke-on-Trent Lord Mayor Faisal Hussain, Councillor for Meir Park Abi Brown, and local paralympian and Better Together patron Ian Marsden.
If you want to support this cause, you can donate to Better Together here.