Norfolk based Christian charity, the Matthew Project, has launched a £40,000 fundraising campaign to replace its well-used and much valued mobile youth venue, the Voicebox caravan.
The Matthew Project’s £40,000 ‘Voicebox: Going the Extra Mile’ campaign was launched at the Forum in Norwich on Monday October 8 with presentations from staff and supporters, plus an opportunity to take a peek inside the current Voicebox caravan.
The Matthew Project is a Christian faith based drug and alcohol agency which works across Norfolk and Suffolk. Its Voicebox project has been operating since 1989 providing a safe, warm, welcoming place for young people to talk informally with skilled workers about drugs, alcohol and other issues important to them.
The launch opened with a campaign video quoting the 2011 NHS statistics: 17% of school age pupils have taken drugs and 380,000 had drunk alcohol in the week of questioning. The opening frames posed the question: “So where do young people go for confidential, impartial advice, especially in rural Norfolk?”
The Voicebox provides the answer. Apart from one problem… the caravan has seen its best days.
Esther Heybourne, Youth Team Manager at The Matthew Project, gave a taste of how well used the mobile youth venue was: “The Voicebox, in the last 12 months, has visited 16 locations across Norfolk and Suffolk. It has travelled over 2,500 miles, delivered 80 outreach sessions and seen over 800 young people.”
Graeme Stewart, Deputy Chief Executive of The Matthew Project, gave the gathered supporters and potential funders some history on the project. He said: “Back in 1989 Voicebox was unique. Nobody else was working in that kind of way in rural Norfolk, and across the country people came to see the work that was being done. And even though so many years have passed Voicebox is still a great tool to work with young people.”
The caravan simply contains a seating area and a small kitchenette to make hot drinks. The campaign, which is being driven with the input of young people who use and value the Voicebox, is seeking to replace the old van with the same kind of vehicle; just a more modern and updated version.
As Graeme Stewart said: “There are no gadgets or gimmicks, simply trained workers who are passionate about working with young people and making a difference in their young lives.
“The caravan is somewhere hospitable, it’s somewhere welcoming, it’s somewhere where young people are treated non-judgementally, where they are respected for who they are.
“Voicebox goes out daytime and evening, from Mundesley in the North to Diss and Thetford in the South. From Terrington St Clements in the West over to Gorleston in the East.”
The launch was supported by PCSO Kane Casburn who described his experience of working alongside the Voicebox team in his community of Sprowston. He said: “Over the course of the year, it has enabled me to build up a relationship with the youth. Not just being able to talk to them directly about any of the issues that they have got, but also on a first name basis. It has built up a much more positive relationship. I’ve noticed that I get a lot less calls about antisocial behaviour.”
The fundraising campaign is seeking to raise £40,000 for a replacement caravan and a vehicle to tow it. A total of £1,917 has been raised so far through a £1,000 donation from Aviva and a sponsored London to Paris cycle ride by a member of Blackfriars Rotary Club.
The campaign will be encouraging as many churches, organisations and businesses to get involved in fundraising as possible. Fundraising ideas which were suggested included:
Choosing the Matthew Project as your nominated charity
Taking part in third party sponsored activities e.g. marathons, cycle rides, walks etc
Donating a percentage of your sales to the Mattthew Project
Skydiving, trekking or taking part in other organised challenges
Collecting Tops 4 Charity at work or at home for recycling
Donating items which we can sell on ebay.
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