The Matthew Project’s new community recovery centre offers no compromise on hope

At the heart of Allchurches Trust’s grant-giving is the Christian belief that people reach their full potential in community and that the opportunity to flourish should be available to all.

Which is why we were delighted to support The Matthew Project with a grant of £18,000 towards its development of the first community recovery centre in Norfolk - the Next Steps Recovery Centre -and to help the charity meet a huge, unmet need within the county.

The Matthew Project has been supporting adults and young people in recovery, veterans, and the families and carers of those affected by substance misuse, throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex for more than 34 years. More than 60 expert staff support more than 1600 people each year, and the charity also operates a vital one-to-one outreach programme to support those who cannot access their services any other way.

Manager of the new Next Steps Recovery Centre, Graham Parfitt, said: “Around 3,000 people in Norfolk use rehabilitation services for drug and/or alcohol misuse every year; and around 53 people complete treatment and return to our community each month.

“Some of the biggest issues for people coming out of rehabilitation are as a result of there being no local opportunities for ongoing recovery support in a community setting. They become socially isolated; unemployment is a huge issue; their mental health deteriorates and then they relapse because they don’t have ongoing support.”

Widespread research shows that social isolation is a major cause of relapse for those going through a substance abuse recovery process. Regular and ongoing peer and mentor support, development of friendships and feeling a valued part of a community are proven to improve recovery journeys dramatically.

Graeme Malcolm from CGL Norfolk, an adult substance misuse service, knows how much harder the journey can be for those trying not to fall back into old social and friendship patterns without a positive community to support them in their progress: “The biggest risk to recovery is isolation. There is an absolute need for a centre like this.”

The Next Steps Recovery Centre will provide a welcoming and vibrant place for people in recovery from substance misuse to participate in employment and skills training, leisure activities and therapy in a community setting.

The recently-launched Recovery Support Programme will run from the centre, with funding from Public Health and Norfolk County Council. The programme focuses on building participants’ ‘recovery capital’ (the set of inner resources a person can draw on to initiate and sustain recovery from alcohol and/or drugs, for example: self-esteem, self-care, hope and motivation). There are also activities and programmes to support employability, social, communication and financial skills, and to promote good emotional, mental and physical health.

The refurbishment project includes development of a training kitchen and café, better street access, group activity rooms, an art studio, one-to-one counselling rooms, an IT and employability suite, exercise studio, library space and lounge area. The Matthew Project has also purchased a minibus to support the centre’s participants.

Allchurches Trust grants officer, Jeremy Noles, said: “The Next Steps Recovery Centre is an example of how important community is to us all as individuals. We all need the support, care and value of each other and our community to overcome, to succeed and to flourish in life. This centre will become the home of a positive new community in Norfolk, and we are pleased to be able to offer funding support.”