News Analysis

‘The Bible is my rehab book’: Faith and recovery at the Nehemiah Project

Mgr Roger Reader cuts the ribbon at the new Nehemiah house in Croydon (The Nehemiah Project)

The Nehemiah Project is a Christian rehabilitation programme that works with men to overcome drug and alcohol addictions in the London area. What is distinctive about it, apart from its Christian ethos, is its incredible success rate.

“Only five per cent of the men that we’ve worked with over the last five years have reoffended, compared to 60 per cent in London,” said Lois Momoh, development director for Nehemiah, which is named after the biblical figure who rebuilt Jerusalem.

As part of its continued growth, a new house for residential rehabilitation sponsored by the British Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta was opened in Croydon on June 13.

Graham Hutton, an Order of Malta member who worked to fund the project, said: “We just thought it would be a wonderful thing if we could help Nehemiah to expand … The real goal is to take people who are very damaged by their experiences but who have managed to get clean while in prison, but haven’t yet adjusted to the difficulty of coming out of prison.”

Nehemiah Project resident Mark Ash said his “whole life has just turned around”. He had “never thought there was going to be a way out” from addiction but, he explained, he had “found a way out because I started to believe in God. I started to become a Christian. The Bible was my rehab book.”

Now on the road to recovery, Mark hopes to become a peer mentor for others battling addiction.

Tom Nell, chairman of the Nehemiah Project’s board of trustees, said its “partnership with the Order of Malta has been instrumental in this house opening”.

The six-bedroom house in Croydon is the fourth of the project and the first new home in more than 18 years.

Archbishop Peter Smith said: “The professional and life-changing support which this charity provides enables the residents to secure a new future. It’s a great work of compassion and mercy.”