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Victoria harm-reduction group receives $80,000 from province

SOLID Outreach Society, which has a drop-in space on North Park Street, delivers harm-reduction supplies with the help of people who have had their own substance-use challenges
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SOLID Outreach worker Dave Keeler hands out harm-reduction supplies in 2021. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

A group that delivers harm-reduction supplies with the help of people who have had their own substance-use challenges will receive $80,000 to continue its health-education and support services, the province announced Monday.

SOLID Outreach Society in Victoria, which has a drop-in space on North Park Street, provides naloxone training, health education and peer support to connect people with other services.

Outreach teams distribute and collect harm-reduction supplies on foot twice a day and promote weekly support-group meetings.

Mark Willson, director of operations for SOLID Outreach Society, said without the grant, “we would be a harm-reduction supplies pickup space, not the accessible drop-in space we are currently able to provide.”

Willson said there is a “serious” lack of drop-in spaces for people who use drugs, people who are homeless and for people who might have basic housing needs met but who have nowhere to go during the day.

Having a drop-in space and a staff of peers to engage and support them is the best way to connect people with health and harm-reduction services they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, he said.

Jerry Majalahti, a peer-support worker, said he listens and helps people get the harm-reduction and health services they need.

“Slowly they open up, see the things we offer that can help them get better and feel better about themselves,” Majalahti said in a statement.

SOLID aims to help members stay alive through addiction so that they will have the opportunity to improve their lives with support, according to the organization.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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