A drawing by one of the Matthew Project’s beneficiaries, Ruby*
For many local people affected by addiction and mental ill health, the coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tough. Most support groups and face-to-face visits have been cancelled, meaning that many people are left isolated, sometimes without friends and family, and with very little structure to their days. The pandemic has also seen a 20% rise** in alcohol sales, as well as a worrying rise in requests for domestic violence support***.
We are one of several local charities helping to tackle this by coming up with creative new ways of supporting beneficiaries.
11-year-old George* lives in rural Norfolk with his family. His father, a veteran suffering from PTSD and substance misuse issues, is being supported by us. Last week, one of our workers visited the family as part of a welfare check. He checked up on George and his father at the garden gate, making sure to keep a safe distance, and, before leaving, he left an activity pack for George, who is a budding scientist. The pack contained a science kit and a build-it-yourself engineering project. These care packages have been generously funded by Norfolk Community Foundation, public donations, and other local groups.
This is just one example of the ways in which support is being adapted to keep staff and beneficiaries as safe as possible.
As well as welfare checks, we are also keeping in touch with beneficiaries over the phone, through online groups, through video calls, and by carrying out essential visits to deliver food and utilities vouchers to those who need it most.
Staff have also been getting creative with making online tutorial videos, setting out structured, fun activities for people to take part in while at home, including Spanish lessons, cookery classes, and exercises. Beneficiaries have also been taking part by painting, drawing, keeping diaries, writing daily ‘gratitude lists’, and supporting one another through phone calls and online messaging.
An online cooking session run by Matthew Project Staff
17-year-old Ruby* is affected by substance misuse and also suffers from anxiety. During the lockdown, she has been at home with her family, although this has been difficult due to their strained relationship. Ruby’s support worker is keeping in regular contact through phone calls and messages, and has planned activities for the family to do together, including basketball, jigsaws, and exercise routines. In addition, Ruby is also writing a log of her feelings, drawing, and taking part on online courses, all with the help of her support worker.
Another beneficiary expressed his gratitude:
“I am EXTREMELY grateful for the Matthew Project and all its staff and all of you guys in the group for putting in the effort from home to still help everyone in the group on their recovery journey. I’m soo grateful that that takes up all my gratitude list for the day. Big ups to everyone putting in the effort. THANKS GUYS.”
We are still in need of additional funding for care packages and costs to keep services running through this difficult time. Choose where your donation goes and help us to support others during this difficult time by donating at https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/donate/the-matthew-project
If you’d like to donate towards a specific service or cost (e.g. towards care packages, staff costs, veterans, young people, or general charitable costs) please state this when donating using the comment box provided.
If you, or somebody you know, needs support, please contact the Matthew Project by calling 01603 626123 or by visiting https://www.matthewproject.org/contact-us
Youth Advice Line: 0800 970 4866
*Names changed for anonymity