Although we are all now finding the ‘new normal’ following two years of pandemic restrictions of varying severity, every time I visit an organisation in Brentwood and Ongar the impact of Covid-19 on everyone is a talking point.
I’ve met recently with outreach workers from the excellent charity Open Road, who support vulnerable people with drug or alcohol addictions. It has hubs in Colchester, Basildon, Harlow and Chelmsford, and outreach workers come to the Brentwood Resource Centre and to Ongar for weekly and monthly services and support to those who are struggling with addictions to opiates, prescription drugs and alcohol.
Chief Executive Sarah Wright, and outreach workers Jim and Sipho talked me through the work they do to help people off drugs and alcohol and to help them find more positive activities to replace them. Good use is being made of specialist employment workers to get people into back into education, employment and training, with the support to get them through treatment and into work.
But the pandemic meant many people retreated into themselves, with some lacking access to phones or wifi to be able to join in remote sessions. Jim and Sipho are doing excellent work in motivating, inspiring and changing their clients’ anxieties to get them interested and included in society again, and described what they do as ‘challenging and rewarding.’
If you know someone who might benefit from all Open Road offers, they can be referred through their GP or find out more at www.openroad.org.uk . It is clear this is a charity which offers practical support and help to those at their lowest ebb and I have no doubt there are many people in this constituency who are now living more fulfilling lives thanks to the work of Open Road.