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Matthew Project opens its recovery hub doors 

Drug and alcohol misuse charity The Matthew Project this week opened the doors of its Norwich recovery hub to its supporters and the wider community. 

Guests included Kevin Maguire, Lord Mayor of Norwich and Caroline Jarrold, High Sheriff of Norwich. The event showcased the centre, which is unique for Norfolk and one of very few across the UK. There were exhibitions of poetry, client testimonials, photography, art, as well as a tour of the facilities.
 
Many of the guests helped to fund the centre's full-scale renovation when it opened in 2019 and were able to see the results with The Matthew Project achieving what it set out to achieve; to provide a place of positive community, support and skills for people affected by substance misuse, mental health issues or other barriers to thriving.
 
It has been widely publicised during the pandemic that there has been an increase in alcohol use, as well as mental health issues. As a charity, the project has responded by adding capacity to its Next Steps adult recovery team with a worker starting in the east of Norfolk and one in the west of Norfolk, with Norfolk County Council Public Health support. At the centre it has also employed a workshop coordinator to strengthen skills.
 
At the very heart of the work of the centre is the 8-week recovery support programme (RSP). During the first lockdown it had to close, so the RSP team adapted their support: calling daily, creating online support groups, sending out support packages, doing door-stop welfare checks. But, nonetheless they saw 8% of the people they were supporting at the time, lapse. When asking one of their members why he had lapsed he said, "I lost the community of this place. I lost all structure to my days. There was nothing to get out of bed for. No reason not to use." So, as soon as they could afterwards, they opened again for face-to-face support. And they have been open ever since.
 
So far The Matthew Project has supported 155 people, in a structured way, with over 6,548 attendances since opening the new centre.
 
Dame Carol Black's independent review of the current Drugs and Alcohol situation across the UK was published in August this year. She recommended "that DHSC and the Office for Health Promotion, support local areas to ensure that thriving communities of recovery, are linked to every drug treatment system." The Matthew Project hopes this recommendation will translate into Government funding for the sustainability of the centre, but until then, they are reliant on the generosity of businesses, trusts and foundations and the people of Norfolk.
 
It costs £1200 per person to go through the programme.
 
In order to raise funds this Christmas, The Matthew Project is taking part in a national match funding campaign, The Big Give Christmas Challenge. From 12pm on November 30 until 12pm on December 7. All donations will be doubled up to £15,000. If you would like to support the campaign, click here to to find out more

Pictured is Richard Walsh, former addict and now recovery support programme member and an exhibitor at the event. Picture by Ken Nung.

Keith Morris, 12/11/2021

Keith Morris

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