Why we need a Harm Reduction Hub in London
The spread of synthetic opioids and their contamination of multiple drug supplies across the UK means they are here to stay. The UK is the deadliest country in Europe for people who use drugs, and this is only set to get worse. We are not prepared: we do not have a structure to test drugs before consumption; drug services aren't adapting to truly meet people where they are at - we know this because they are ringing our helpline instead. We are at a point where we need to intensify our struggle for real harm reduction, and fight against the forces preventing change around us to truly bring change.
We have tried to do what we can with our current resources:
- We’ve created harm reduction advice on nitazenes, partnering with organisations to increase their reach
- We’ve spoken on national media to raise awareness on the dangers of synthetic opioids and what needs to be done to reduce their harms
- We’ve written to public health professionals on how to improve health system resilience to new psychoactive substances
- We offer free training to workers in our local homelessness partner services to ensure workers can double as drug treatment advocates - as we know that OST greatly reduces the likelihood of experiencing a fatal opioid overdose
We are tired of begging people for piecemeal changes - and seeing our people die while the Government refuses to take action. We have reached a point where we want to take control and fight against the forces preventing change with our own model of action and community care. Along the way, we hope to build evidence of good harm reduction practices which can be implemented across the country.
For that reason, we are repurposing a part of our building into a harm reduction centre - and we need your help.
What the Hub will contain
We need 7,500 GBP as quickly as we can gather it in order to turn our ground floor meeting room into a public-facing drop-in space. This money would be used to:
- Rebuild the room, including expanding the walls to increase its capacity
- Refit the space with new electrical wiring and fire detection system
- Furnish the space
- Paint a shopfront externally so that we can be found easily on the street
Any additional funds would be used to print harm reduction literature, as well as ordering harm reduction materials such as nitazene and xylazine strips, and/or drug testing kits for consumer purchase. The literature would include our new advocacy guide to help people who do want to go to drug services to access the treatment that works for them, as well as leaflets on nitazenes and sample testing forms for people to send drug samples to WEDINOS for analysis.
Once open, the space will offer:
- A warming space for anyone, with access to tea, coffee, and phone chargers
- Signposting to relevant health and social services
- Legal referrals
- Basic legal one-off advice (similar to our National Helpline)
- Public health literature available for takeaway (such as info on BBV prevention and treatment, support with GP registering, and drug alerts)
- ‘Know your rights’ literature, as well as work from other allies
- Merchandise and harm reduction materials for sale
- A welcoming local community space to have a friendly conversation