TMP Appoint new chair, Dr Liz Wiggins

As lockdown ends, a new chapter begins...

If you haven't already heard, we are excited to announce that we have a new chair Dr Liz Wiggins. Listen to her above being interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk and read below to hear more about her and why she joined our cause.

Why did you decide to become Chair of The Matthew Project?

I am a huge believer in the importance of community and for a while I had been looking for a way of doing something useful where I could give my time and skills. Someone emailed me the job specification for the Chair of The Matthew Project. I asked my husband for his thoughts about who we knew who might be interested. He said why didn’t I apply. So I did.

What does The Matthew Project do?

Our main role is supporting people impacted by drug and alcohol related issues, providing innovative education about the risks of drugs and alcohol and empowering people to make more informed choices and break down barriers to fulfilling their potential. The Matthew Project is based largely in Norfolk but also works in Suffolk and Essex. We are blessed with a fabulous recovery hub in Norwich called Next Steps which provides a welcoming environment for service users.

Before I took on the role, I met the outgoing Chair, Paul Hoey, for a coffee. He has been involved with the charity for over 15 years so has played a huge role in shaping and guiding it to become the organisation it is today. He described the charity as working with people who aren’t just on the margins of society but who have fallen off the page. That phrase really stuck with me. It made me want to be involved.

What is the role of a Chair?

The Chair has a number of roles including leading the Board of Trustees who are collectively responsible, legally, for making sure the Charity is using its resources of money and people wisely and meeting the charitable purpose for which it was established. I also see my role, along with the other Trustees, as being a thought partner to the CEO and senior managers. It’s not at all about telling staff what to do but it is about asking good questions that are both supportive and challenging.

Who does The Matthew Project help?

The Matthew Project provides a place of hope, working with young people and veterans, providing support not judgement and practical help to recover from addiction and then build skills and self esteem so that individuals don’t relapse. We help young people who have addiction issue themselves or who are affected by the addition of other family members. We also run support groups for parents who often feel very isolated and struggle to know what to do, or who to talk to, if their children have become involved in drugs or alcohol. We also have a programme called ‘Outside The Wire’ for Veterans run by veterans. This is a group of people who sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with PTSD and the loss of routine and purpose that comes from being an active member of the Armed Forces.

What difference do you make?

Rather than me saying, I’d like to include part of a poem written by one of the young people who used the services and attended a writing workshop run by The Writers Centre Norwich.

Do You Understand

By K

Addicts are always seen as scum of the earth,

Been that way since birth,

Don’t be around them, they’re cursed,

They’ll just steal from your house or purse.

Has anyone actually looked at one,

And thought understandingly where had it all begun?

We weren’t born with knives or guns,

Expect to deal with losing a daughter or a son,

Having no home and constantly on the run.

What about thinking they are a human being,

And there’s more to it than what you are seeing.

Could you cope with the fear they hold,

Holding so much shame they think their heart is cold.

Not having the knowledge to break the mould,

Or forgetting the things they’ve been called or told.

Where does your funding come from?