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Launch of Live Chat for Young People with Issues or Questions around Drugs and Alcohol in Norfolk

This week (15th – 21st May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and the focus this year is on anxiety.

UK’s leading digital charity for under 25s The Mix, report that 1 in 3 young people (aged 16 to 25) have used an illegal drug in the past 12 months, and 1 in 5 substance users now take drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to escape problems in their lives. Belief that there are no suitable services available prevent many from seeking help means that hundreds of young people across Norfolk are suffering in silence rather than reaching out for support.

The Matthew Project Unity service is taking action. They offer a specialist Drug and Alcohol Service for children, young people, and their families - also known as Unity. Commissioned by Norfolk County Council, the service is free and confidential, offering specialist support, advice, and information to young people who are using substances themselves and/or affected by someone else’s substance misuse.

Their research has highlighted the need for a young person-specific website with an anonymous online messaging service with an ‘instant’ response and connection to a Unity staff member. The Unity service took this feedback on board and co-produced a website that has an out-of-hour live chat. Many young people find chatting on the phone contributes to anxiety around getting support. There will be young people who have questions but perhaps do not feel ready to talk face-to-face or over the phone. The Live Chat provides young people with improved anonymity, can be done in silence without others knowing, and offers young people options about how they communicate with us.

The live chat is for any young person living in Norfolk between the ages of 13 and 19 who has issues or questions about drugs or alcohol. The live chat currently runs from Monday to Thursday, from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Feedback from research with young people about the Live Chat:

“Actually getting help is a big step, to go to someone face to face is scary, you don’t want to get people in trouble, online could help.”
“This would be very helpful as I could access support on my mobile phone which I use a lot of the time. I would also be able to do this discreetly without anybody knowing.”
“It would make me feel less disconnected and anxious as I would know I could get support quickly if needed. Also online would keep me on track if other support or my worker wasn’t available.”

Eve Hart, Practitioner Manager – “For some young people getting support with their substance misuse can be a big step, having the option of talking anonymously via live chat could really help with this.”

For further information please contact: Lea Denley at The Matthew Project [email protected]


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