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    Parkdale_Will on Mic


    “It’s not just about the needles.  It’s about giving out power and knowledge.”

    There are many programs and services throughout the city working to reduce drug related harms but they stretch their budgets further and further to meet increasing demand.  The Harm Reduction Program at the Parkdale Community Health Centre is essential to the overall working of the health centre.  As part of an integrated healthcare initiative, “this service matters because our clients matter.”  The Canadian Harm Reduction Network defines harm reduction as “policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the negative health, social and economic consequences that may ensue from the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs, without necessarily reducing drug use. Its cornerstones are public health, human rights and social justice. It benefits people who use drugs, families and communities”.   At PCHC clients talk about how the harm reduction program decreases isolation, fosters friendships and saves lives.  “When this service is gone there is going to be a void. I fear the unknown of that void.”

    The Parkdale Harm Reduction Program is one of the city’s oldest needle exchange program and came from a very “client-centred” approach.  The Harm Reduction movement is very grassroots and many service users at PCHC told us that they “have their own clients” and bring harm reduction beyond the Centre itself. “Friday nights I do outreach. I carry the kits Sunday to Monday when there is nobody around to get them. I’ve been doing it for four years. I just picked up 17 needles the other day and 8 crack pipes.”

    Currently programming at Parkdale CHC includes a Kit Making program (to make safe drug use kits), Kapow (a group for sex workers and women dealing with past or current substance misuse), a Men’s Drop-In (a group for men dealing with past or current substance misuse, homelessness or mental health challenges), Harm Reduction Workshops, and the F.U.N. Group (Finally Understanding Narcotics – a group open to former and active drug users).  PCHC has an Outreach team that delivers kits to people in the neighbourhood and the harm reduction room at the centre has regular hours from Monday to Friday where clients can access safer injection and crack kits, information, support, referrals, food, hygiene supplies and peer support.  Harm Reduction staff, peers, and clients in the community are committed to advocating for Harm Reduction and saving lives.  “I get so angry and built up over this shit. I do the marches when I can. I push myself through it. I take the pain and put it to good use.”

    Parkdale Harm Reduction   Memory Archive