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Introduction to ‘the community at the heart of the response’

In this video, Ernst Wisse and Judy Chang introduce the 4th topic of the MOOC on Harm Reduction and drug use, focussing on the community involvement
Congratulations, you have just passed over half of the course ! Now this section is talking about one of my favorite parts of harm reduction movement, the community involvement. We will hear Judy talk about community-based and community-led harm reduction. So peer work is essential to harm reduction. You will hear how peers led the fight in demanding that governments remove policy barriers and fund needle and syringe programs to prevent HIV Because people who use drugs are criminalised, stigmatised and discriminated against, government run services are not always welcoming spaces. This is why harm reduction services should be community based. That means being delivered in communities and meaningfully involving people who use drugs as peer workers or run and manage by peers themselves.
So meaningfully involving peers in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of programs means that services will better align with people’s actual needs and realities. Now, as an implementing organization, it is vital to acknowledge and foster the prominent role of the community. This session will feature video which some of the core principles that Médecin du Monde is aiming for. Now I personally find that we’re all saying it’s very easy. We all know which words to use in our reports and meetings, but the reality is still lacking far behind and sometimes it is not as easy as it sounds.
So for starters, it’s important to realise that people that step up to help their own community take a lot of additional risks for themselves, but also for their family. Or sometimes, yes, you can still find a lot of stigma even inside harm reduction programs. So it’s important that organisations work towards better protecting the peer workers from internal and external barriers and risks. So as I will discuss later on, there is a difference between community based programming and community led. And I will define these differences. Community led programming has come about through self organizing. It is where all aspects of the program are decided by and with people who use drugs.
And underpinning this is years of community-led advocacy to gain recognition and funding for community-led responses. So it’s really about shifting power so that decision making on what’s best is in the hands of those most directly impacted. So finally, in this session, we will showcase an existing video about a fully community led harm reduction program in the USA that I find really inspiring. So enjoy the session !

The second activity of week 2 looks into the community aspect of harm reduction. By now, you have heard many people underlining how the community involvement forms the foundation of a harm reduction response. Judy and Ernst give you the outlines of how this topic will be covered in the next steps.

Judy will examine the difference between community-based and community-led harm reduction. This activity will also cover some more practical insights on how to start, foster, support and scale-up community mobilisation initiatives. Mat Southwell will talk us through the ‘peer-work’ and the ‘self-organising’ components of community mobilisation.

You have already past more than half of the course!

You are currently at the second topic of week 2

1. What is Harm Reduction?
2. The public health dimension of drug use and harm reduction
3. The human rights dimension of drug use and harm reduction
[»] The community at the heart of the response
5. Advocating for Harm Reduction
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Drug Use and Harm Reduction

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