Opinion with Matthew Munson: Looking forward to summer downtime and contributing to help others

The latest journey for Matthew and Bryan

I went to the barber’s for a haircut today. I took Bryan as well – I wouldn’t just leave him home alone; he might think I’m cruel when I ask him to take his dinner plate into the kitchen, but I’m always watching out for him.

Why am I telling you about our barber trip? Well, it was our first visit in over four months, and in the interim, I have rather butchered anything approaching hairstyles. We were inordinately excited; it’s certainly not the top priority at the moment, but it was a psychologically-uplifting experience in a very safe environment – Matt’s Headroom might have looked different to comply with the rules, but it protected us and them.

In the meantime, I’m gearing up for the summer holidays and the end of official home schooling. There’s two more weeks before that happens, and we’re ending our learning by looking at history and religion; two subjects that fascinate me, so I hope I can imbue some of that same passion into Bryan.

I don’t intend to do any formal home-schooling during the holidays; we’ll do some times tables, handwriting practice, and vocabulary, but I intend to keep it light. I want to have the summer with Bryan just having some downtime. He’ll be going to the Forest School in Birchington one day a week, as he thoroughly enjoys it, he learns a lot, and makes friends – all incredibly important at the best of times, but even more important now – his emotional well-being is just as important to me as his physical well-being, and to socialise with children his own age is one of the things he needs right now.

Last summer, there were a lot of activities we could choose from; activities at libraries, Pets at Home, Hobby Craft, Folk Week, the Water Gala … all off. I’m sad to see so much having to close down because of these unusual times; it’s one year out of many, of course, and we will survive. I love raising Bryan in Thanet; there are so many open spaces, and always something to see – nature in its finest glory.

But I also hope there are opportunities for Bryan and I to have other experiences this summer. I don’t know what they’ll be yet, because I haven’t found them out, but I hope we can do new things this summer – maybe some volunteering, perhaps. I want Bryan to remember 2020 for how we responded sensibly to the pandemic, how we help others, and how we spent time together.

In the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be looking into what Bryan and I are going to do this summer, and I’ll share anything I find out in my column in case it’s of interest to anyone else with kids.

One thing Bryan has wanted to do over the past few months to help homeless people; it’s a particular interest to me, trying to understand why people end up without a home. I don’t know if I do a particularly good job explaining why this happens, but he wants to do something positive.

I’ve been amazed with his determination to save some of his pocket money so that he can give food to a homeless shelter or food bank – all without any influence from me. He’s managed to save over £30, and now we’ve decided to do some shopping and donate the goods – but I wanted to ask readers of this column if they could recommend a food bank or homeless shelter that we could donate to? I’d like to make sure we donate fairly, so I welcome opinions. I’ll let you know how we get on.


  1. Sharon goodyer ‘s our kitchen in thanet, looks after thousands of families in thanet.supports church food banks in Margate, westgate town council, the gap project in Broadstairs, Ramsgate town council food bank and others

  2. Matthew,

    I am not after your son’s money but I would like to offer you both a wonderful experience which will help the hungry and homeless too! If you could also write it up I think a lot of people would be interested.

    If you look at our website ourkitchenontheisleofthanet.org.uk you will see that we gleaned cherries last summer.
    This year We are hoping with the farmers’ permission to take very small groups, maybe even only one family at a time out gleaning . We will bring the food we glean back to our kitchen and cook it. These dishes will then be sold in our social supermarket.

    If you would like to know more get in touch

    [email protected]

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