Mainline’s Peer Navigators Playing Vital Role in Harm Reduction

A community-based project led by Mainline is playing a vital role in harm reduction efforts and  helping to reach some of Halifax’s most marginalized people who use drugs (PWUD).  More than 20 PWUD have been trained as peer navigators and are working alongside Mainline’s peer staff in delivering various harm reduction services, including the distribution of clean equipment, the collection of used supplies, peer support, safer drug use education, as well as links to various health and ancillary support services. “The meaningful engagement of people who use drugs as peer navigators is so important,” says Mainline’s Director, Diane Bailey. “Peer navigators are critical to reducing the transmission of hepatitis C, HIV and the many other risks of drug use in our communities. Their experience provides a vital gateway and can bridge the gap between isolated PWUD and access to health and social support services.”

A demonstration project conducted last year by Mainline also highlighted the benefits of engaging as peer navigators on PWUD themselves. Testimonials revealed increases in knowledge, skills, confidence and empowerment, as well as hopefulness that they are inspiring their peers to also help in their communities. Through the expansion of services and increased visibility of the peer navigator “foot patrol” outreach, Mainline expects to  improve overall service delivery and the effectiveness of their harm reduction interventions in preventing hepatitis C, HIV, and other STBBIs. As stated by Diane Bailey, “Peer navigators have their pulse on the current drug using trends that can inform the policies and programs delivered by Mainline.”

Mainline will be hosting a peer-based education event in partnership with Direction 180 and HANDUP August 31st in honour of International Overdose Awareness Day and welcomes everyone to come meet their peer navigators and staff.

For some media and social media coverage on the project:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/medical-students-learn-about-dirty-needles-addictions-1.4650215
https://globalnews.ca/news/4370502/nova-scotia-hepatitis-c-research/
https://twitter.com/needleexchange2

 

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