From little acorns

PUBLISHED: 06:35 09 June 2014

The Matthew Project's under 18 carers and parents survey. Photo: Anne Green-Armytage

The Matthew Project's under 18 carers and parents survey. Photo: Anne Green-Armytage

© Anne Green-Armytage 2013

Never judging, open to everyone and keen to dispel myths about addiction – the Matthew Project celebrates its 30th birthday this year and is continuing to innovate and move with the times.

Started by Peter Farley in 1984, the Norfolk-based charity now employs 130 people, and works with adults, young people and communities affected by drugs and alcohol, providing professional advice, education, counselling, support and care and a 24/7 helpline. It also offers support services to their families, including children whose parents use drugs or alcohol, and runs an innovative education programme in schools and youth organisations across Norfolk and Suffolk, while working closely with the criminal justice service at the courts and police stations.

“The Matthew Project is very closely linked to the community it serves; it has integrity, is non-judgemental and is not afraid to embrace change and innovate and that is what impressed me so much when I came here,” says chief executive Paul Martin. “In the charity’s 30 years there have been so many achievements to be proud of. For any UK charity, just surviving in recent times is something to be celebrated, but what it has managed to do – which is rare – is grow from one man’s vision into a large organisation while remaining incredibly true to its traditional ethos.

“We are under an increasing amount of stress in modern life and I think people now see how easy it can be to fall in to addiction of some sort. Some people will always think that addiction is self-inflicted and they should be left alone to deal with the consequences, but I think we are definitely more sympathetic as a nation than we once were. We all see people under pressure and suffering from difficult life-changing situations whether that’s family issues or losing a job. Addiction is a very complex issue and actually, it could happen to anyone and I think we are beginning to understand that.”

Over the coming months there will be a host of fundraising events and activities plus the launch of new initiatives, including Outside The Wire, working specifically with members or former members of the armed forces, building on the work which the charity already does and its close links with organisations such as Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion.

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