Christian community vital to Matthew Project
Norfolk drugs and alcohol charity The Matthew Project is open to anybody who needs support – and their partnership with the local Christian community helps them to make a difference to people’s lives.
The Matthew Project’s Voicebox caravan was parked outside The Forum in Norwich during Christian showcase event Celebrate on June 12, and the team was ready to talk to provide information on drugs and alcohol and to talk to people about the support they offer.
Service manager Naomi Selim said the Matthew Project was keen to have a presence at Celebrate and saw the event as an opportunity to thank the Christian community for their support. She said, “This event is about faith in action. It’s an opportunity to thank them for the way they live out their faith through us.”
There are two strands to the Matthew Project’s service: working with people who have their own issues with drug and alcohol misuse, and secondly for those who are affected by the problems of family members. The project currently works with 74 people who are affected by the drug and alcohol abuse of family members.
The Matthew Project works with many different agencies and receives referrals from families, schools, GPs, Children’s Services and also self-referrals. Staff members are seconded from different agencies. Naomi said, “We are very lucky to have a social worker on the team”.
The Matthew Project is a Christian organisation and they are open to anybody seeking support or advice about drugs and alcohol. Partnership working with churches is important to the project and they have recently been involved with church youth groups in Sprowston and Norwich. Naomi said, “We are trying to reduce the stigma around drugs and alcohol.” They would be pleased to hear from volunteers to help with the group work – whether to talk to the young people or to serve refreshments.
The Matthew Project is well-known in Norfolk and Norwich, thanks to their community presence through the Voicebox caravan and outreach initiatives such as school assemblies. Staff have been recognised years later by young people who heard them at their school and were impacted by the message they heard.
What young people say about The Matthew Project
“Having someone I could trust and connect with meant I was able to talk about my mum’s drinking and my worries. This helped me cope with things day to day. I am now at college and living independently. I still have the urge to save my mum sometimes but now I know it’s down to her to change.” Mark, aged 17.
“[The project] helps me with my family, relationships and low moods by having someone to talk to. I’m not using Mephedrone at the moment and trying to cut down my cannabis use. I continue to see Unity because the workers are easy to talk to and stop me from making bad decisions." Luke, aged 15.
Pictured above: Naomi Selim