Harm Reduction Practice
I’ve been fortunate to have been given access to photograph at the two Drug Consumption Rooms in Australia, the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) which has been running for over 17 years, and the recently opened Melbourne Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR). Most of the photos I’ve been taking are of the staff and the facilities at the projects… but I’d like to describe the photo I didn’t take.
Link opens on my photography site
The latter half of 2016 saw increased interest and positive development with regard to the introduction of Safer Injecting Facilities (SIF) in both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Whether or not this interest proves to be yet another false policy promise in the progress of UK harm reduction remains to be seen. However, during this period of potential development, I couldn’t help but notice that advocates of SIF stated that such facilities would aim to reduce local levels of ‘public injecting’ and assist with ‘removing drug-use from the street’.
I’m writing a conference presentation at the moment, the topic is the need for safer spaces to use drugs in the UK. As part of the research for it I spent a day this week walking around Birmingham with my camera. I think it’s very easy for drug workers to lose sight of the situations people are forced into when using drugs. Seeing where some people are injecting really makes it clear that we need a real push to get drug consumption rooms started.
This month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) – the UN agency that coordinates international health responses – launched a new set of guidelines for HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations. The new document is the culmination of months of consultation and review, and pulls together existing guidance for five groups: men who have sex with men, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers, transgender people, and people who inject drugs.
Last week I was invited to speak at the National Service User Involvement Conference in Birmingham. The conference was attended by between 500 and 600 people and I was talking about naloxone. You might not think it, but presentations like this are stressful and remembering why is important.
The following ‘harm reduction response’ has been inspired by UnitingCare ReGen’s proactive response to negative media reports of needles/syringes in community settings. This ‘letter’ provides a template for similar action by relevant bodies based in the UK (harm reduction agencies, drug and alcohol workers, drug users).
Over the last 6-7 years, in my role as a university-based researcher, I have been given privileged access to a number of Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) throughout England. Throughout this time, a large number of organisations and individuals have assisted me in carrying out research concerning injecting drug use that takes place in public settings (such as toilets, car parks, green areas, derelict property etc).
We’re living in a world where we have access to instant communications, couple this with busy workloads and tools to speed up that communication and it’s no great surprise that a warning you receive will often be sent off to others without you checking out the details (or in a lot of cases without it even being read) Someone is always sending out warnings in this world. But this is a problem…
As I’m sure most people who read this site will know Mephedrone has been around for a few years now and it is one of the wide range of new and emerging drugs, some legal, some not that people are experimenting with, using recreationally or in some cases developing a dependency on. One of the questions and fears that has been around has been which of these, if any, will people inject and what will be the consequences and risks if they do.