Growing a Recovery Community in Thetford

The Matthew Project in Action

'You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone'

It's a rainy Friday lunchtime in July. People are gathering in a large room overlooking damp garden in Thetford. In a corner, a group of musicians are getting ready to play. In the kitchen, two men are slaving over a hot stove, frying sausages, cooking burgers and chopping salad.

Twenty or so people are milling around, laughing and chatting- just another wet day barbecue- nothing to write home about- EXCEPT this one is special...

Most of the people in the room have had drug and alcohol issues, a few are still using, some have just stopped using and some have a few clean months or years under their belts. We call them 'mentors' and they are playing a leading role today. They are chatting about recovery, leading the cooking team and part of the music group.

Someone who was there said 'The day went really well and brought together loads of people going through the same struggles whether still using or not, as a team we came along together'

Back in April, some of the same people took part in a Dragon's Den Event- they pitched their ideas for community projects to a group of three local 'Dragons' who invested money (donated by a local benefactor) into the projects- one of team takes up the story:

'It was slightly intimidating at first but once everyone relaxed, it turned in to a productive and fun afternoon. Many of the ideas' aims were to provide a safe and understanding environment for our service users, who in turn can share their experiences so we can learn the perils of alcohol and drug addiction.

The Dragons decided to invest money to our individual groups so our ideas can turn into reality and help to educate, promote awareness of drug and alcohol addiction to our community'

Three months on, the projects are starting to take shape; the music group has bought guitars, amps and a drum machine with the Dragon's money, and is meeting every Friday. So far 9 different people have taken part, some more regularly than others! At the barbecue, a mentor has added his drumming skills and they are performing for the group-there are plenty of laughs- mainly provoked by the (un)skillful singing of staff members!!! (none of the singers showed up)

The food team has been slower off the ground, today is their first time cooking together and the food is great! Their vision is to run a lunch group so that people can get together at weekends and improve their cooking skills. They've run into a few difficulties and so haven't spent much of their money yet but they are pressing on.

Backing from the wider community is a real encouragement to our fledgling recovery community- the barbecue was funded by Thetford Inner Wheel.

Back in April, one of the Dragons said:
'I enjoyed yesterday and felt it was a very worthwhile exercise. I was very impressed by the hard work that had gone into the presentations as well as the reaction of staff to how your clients had come on. All in all, a credit to your work and organization.'
Neil Stott, Chief Executive, Keystone Development Trust

'Dragon's Den' Projects are also running in Comer and Norwich. We are planning a celebration of the fruit they have borne so far at 1pm on Wednesday 19th September at the Friends Meeting House in Norwich.

  • A telephone helpline for everyone within Norfolk & Suffolk who need support or have questions on drugs and alcohol.
  • Dynamic education so young people understand the risks of drugs and alcohol.
  • Free, confidential help.
  • Honest, accurate and appropriate information.
  • Support for parents and families of drug or alcohol users.

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