Southside Harm Reduction Services

Report date
March 2023

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

Starting and Supporting Participant Meetings:

Our participants (largely people who use drugs) are core to everything that we do. Because Southside's services are all outdoors there are many limitations to how much participants and staff can engage with each other about larger goals. Being able to offer a regular, flexible meeting space with snacks, food, bus fair, we have been able to do the following

-Meet, organize, share and learn about harm reduction/ OPC and share thoughts/ feelings about personal experiences.
-Held a reliable space for accessing resources, support, and connection to community.
-Planned food menu and activities for E Phillips block party (summer 2022) in partnership with Neighbors for Harm Reduction
-Shared OPC power point/other edu and heard feedback and discussed ideas for opening one in our city
-Strengthen/deepen relationships in a new capacity, beyond direct service

Key lessons learned

The progress that we made took a lot of persistence. The biggest challenges that we faced were staying connected with participants, many of whom face daily barriers with communication technology, transportation, having basic needs met, etc. This roll called for us for us to be flexible with our goals and expectations of participants. Many people we work with do not have access to phones/mobile devices or reliable transportation. This meant that we had to be extremely reliable and resourceful in the ways we met and organized with folks.

Strategies that led to success were:
-Continuing to hold meetings even when attendance was low or nothing
-Encouraging and responding to feedback on how to make engagement more accessible (i.e. moving locations when necessary, where and when to get the word out, meeting people where they were at with information and support that was relevant to them).
- Encouraging engagement in various ways - surveys, meetings, outreach, ect
- Sharing food! And paying people or reimbursing people for their time