Youth RISE recently hosted a workshop in Houston, Texas. One of our activities focused on International Overdose Awareness Day which is held annually today, August 31st. Overdose Awareness Day is a day to reflect on those lives lost to overdose, the lives saved by harm reduction practices, and how to spread the word to keep people safe. We at Youth RISE want to #endthestigma of those who use drugs and we know that #harmreductionmatters
Baltic states and Caucasus Countries Youth Mobilization Meeting was held from the 6th to the 8th of August, 2019 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The meeting brought 20 young people from 6 countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
The meeting was aimed at mobilizing young people who use drugs or who are affected by repressive drug policies in their countries. The meeting became a great platform for the networking and exchange of experiences in harm reduction and drug policy field.
During the meeting, each organization and initiative group had a chance to present their work, activities, and challenges they face in providing harm reduction services and advocating for humane drug policies. Furthermore, participants tried to define common values and principles of work and discussed future cooperation plans, as well how we can support each other in different situations.
At the end of the meeting participants started to prepare for the follow up of the meeting – discussion for the music festival which happened day after the meeting, as well as the development of a game which helped with interacting with festival attendees in a harm reduction setting. Almost all participants of the meeting took part in the music festival, where harm reduction services, information and consultation about psychoactive substances, PsyHelp services were provided by the international team. What is more, interactive discussion, based on the created game during the mobilization meeting was held on Saturday during festival. Participants of the festival took active participation in the discussion and interacted together with us, by answering questions and trying to identify different harm reduction and drug paraphernalia.
Youth RISE members were in attendance at a #4Youth Consortium workshop to help us develop our organisational development strategy. The meeting helped us identify a number of resources and best practices from our consortia partners to help us actualise this strategy. A number of our resources and experiences were also identified as being potentially useful for our partners. The meeting will save us and our partners time and money and help us be more efficient. We also benefitted greatly from sessions on topics such as learning, monitoring and evaluation and risk management facilitated by Youth LEAD, UNAIDS and UNDP.
While visiting Australia, Youth RISE’s MJ Stowe met up with Tegan Nuckey from the
Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN), to find out more about their needle and
syringe program (NSP), as well as undergo naloxone administration training.
QuIHN’s NSPs provide sterile injecting equipment and disposal options, referral to health
services and information and education aimed at reducing blood borne virus transmission.
The aim of the NSPs is to reduce the spread of blood borne viral infections among injecting
drug users, and thereby the general community. QuIHN’s NSPs also seek to reduce other
injecting related injury and diseases and provide an important link to drug treatment referral
and access, where appropriate.
Here’s what MJ had to say: “My day at the QuIHN office was inspiring. From the diversity of
educational resources to the way in which staff interacted with the service beneficiaries,
visiting the NSP provided me with a wealth of information to take back to South Africa. In
addition, the naloxone training was fantastic, with Tegan using her experience and
knowledge to teach me some valuable skills. I really look forward to taking these skills with
me back to South Africa and putting them into practice. Especially since, in South Africa,
People who inject drugs (PWID) who cannot access harm reduction services, specifically
needle and syringe programmes, are at particularly high risk of Hepatitis C virus, HIV and if
non-immune, for Hepatitis B infection.”
For more information on QuIHN’s programmes and services visit www.quihn.org.
The Harm Reduction Consortium is a global coalition of seven independent organizations, including Youth RISE, which exists to end the global war on drugs and to promote access to services which uphold the health and human rights of people who use drugs. In order to upskill the consortium members and partners to engage effectively with the media, as well as improving their overall communications skills the consortium is seeking to appoint an experienced individual or organization to provide training and coaching in communications, crisis management, and media engagement.
The Harm Reduction Consortium members have a compelling message and story to tell: the global war on drugs is having disastrous consequences all around the world. But we are not doing this as effectively and proactively as we would like. We are therefore seeking to build confidence and capacity among the Consortium members and selected key partners in the areas of communication best practices, public speaking, media engagement, crisis management and communications, effective social media presence and message framing for different audiences.
We are looking for individuals or organisations that can provide high quality communications, messaging and media coaching to the Consortium members in order to deliver our messages convincingly and impactfully.
Youth RISE have been involved in a number of events taking place all around the world for the Support. Don’t Punish. Global Day of Action on the 26th of June. The campaign, organized by IDPC, takes place annually to coincide with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Events took place in 250 cities across 90 countries, with Youth RISE members being involved in events in Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Lithuania and beyond. The events ranged from online awareness campaigns, to protests involving key stakeholders and local politicians, with the wider campaign mobilizing thousands of people all across the world to advocate for an end to punitive punishments and an end to the War on Drugs!
Youth RISE project managers are continuing work to improve collaboration amongst youth organizations as meetings have been held groups such as SSDP Australia and YODA, among others, around future partnerships and organizing a Paradigma strategy meeting this coming July. The meeting will take place in Vilnius and will bring together global youth drug policy reform groups to enable our organizations to work together towards the same goals. Youth RISE members have also been working to arrange to Global Fund Training of Trainers event in Cape Town this month. This training will again improve cooperation among youth organizations and is being run in conjunction with Y+ and Youth LEAD.
Youth RISE is hiring a consultant to help in the development of an advocacy video outlining the work being done by our organisation and to aid in the expansion of the network. The deadline for applications is 00:00 EEST on the 10th of June and the ToR for applicants can be found here. Applications should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lebanon has faced problems arising from buprenorphine abuse in recent years as people who use drugs have chosen different routes of administration, such as snorting or injecting, which increased the harms caused by the OST drug. Buprenorphine sublingual tablets contain corn starch and other active ingredients which can cause blood clots, and are designed to be taken orally, by placing them under your tongue. People have been experimenting with buprenorphine in an attempt to create produce a high associated with opioids and this has, rather alarmingly, led to buprenorphine now being sold on the black market. Youth RISE, along with other national NGOs in Lebanon such as SIDC, OM el NOUR, SKOON, and many others started working on ways to solve these problems. Youth RISE team member Bachaar Kawach was working in this group as a social and medical worker, and experienced activist, concluded that the best strategy would be to convince the Ministry of Public Health to implement new strategies, such as adapting the formula of the tablets.
The main points of his suggestion were:
After 8 years of generic buprenorphine being used in OST, in the beginning of this year suboxone has finally been registered and is now available to be distributed as OST. Feedback from people using the new suboxone formula has been positive and we hope to continue education about the harms associated with the misuse of OST drugs throughout the year.
Youth RISE Project Managers Ishwor Maharjan and Florian Scheibein recently attended the 4YOUTH Inception Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. The 4YOUTH Consortium is a partnership between Youth RISE, Youth LEAD, YPEER and Y+Network. We are very excited about this one! More details can be found in the attached document here.