On Thursday, August 31, NDG-based youth organization Head & Hands closed their doors and took to the streets for International Overdose Awareness Day: a call-to-action against Canada’s growing opioid crisis. The action took place just days after Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre responded to growing concern that the fentanyl crisis may be coming to Montreal.
At the same time, Head & Hands is gearing up for it’s annual fundraiser PARCours. Taking place this year on October 1st, the fundraiser brings together organizations working on prevention, education, and support for HIV/AIDS communities. This year, the funds Head & Hands raises will support their medical services, including their Street Work program: an initiative that is working on the front lines of both HIV/AIDS and overdose prevention.
This past year alone, Head & Hands’ street work team distributed almost 8000 needles, more than 200 pipes, and over 14,000 condoms, and each month the organization’s two street workers– both of whom are trained in administering naloxone– make an average of 45 new contacts in the community through mobile outreach. The program aims to meet and support youth (ages 12-25) and drug users of all ages, in a non-judgmental, confidential, and flexible way. The Street Work team is experienced in talking through everything from domestic abuse and unemployment to addiction, suicide, and homelessness.
Like all of Head & Hands’ services, the Street Work program is rooted in a philosophy of harm reduction. “This is about reducing stigma and about the rights of drug users to health and safety,” says Liz, one of the organization’s two street workers. She hopes that Quebec won’t wait to see a crisis on the scale of B.C. or Ontario before taking action, and sees Head & Hands playing a role in this growing national conversation with the clear message that one preventable overdose is one too many.
To donate, go to www.fqsida.org/PARCours2017/HEAD&HANDS
—Head & Hands