Supporting Peers at a Grassroots Level

Supporting Peers at a Grassroots Level

BC is at a point in history where the average life expectancy is falling because of overdose deaths. As the charitable partner of the province’s leading public health agency, we see it as our duty to support solutions to our public health emergency. Our incredible donors have stepped forward to join us in making those solutions possible.

Compassion, Inclusion, Engagement (CIE) is a provincial partnership between the First Nations Health Authority and the BC Centre for Disease Control to address stigma and discrimination experienced by people who use substances, particularly those who are Indigenous. As part of our Reducing Harms priority, the Foundation is thrilled to have raised $110,000 towards this incredible initiative that is supporting people with lived and living experience of substance use (peers) create change in their own communities.

Communities in which peer groups have been funded in 2019

CIE supports people with lived experience, primarily in remote and rural communities, in forming peer groups. Peer groups have been instrumental in advocating for the rights of people who use drugs and for meaningful change in drug policy that saves lives. CIE peer groups are empowered and supported in two ways: through skill and capacity building and through seed funding.

By providing capacity building support, these groups learn tangible skills in how to organize, develop a mission, learn about navigating group dynamics, grant writing, financial management and more. The seed funding that’s provided is to support their on-the-ground work, which ranges from operating peer-run overdose prevention sites, training and distribution of naloxone and harm reduction supplies, providing needle clean up, and providing employment and income to members.

Charitable donations to this program support both the skill building and seed funding, allowing peers to make a difference locally, in a way that is relevant to their members and community. This program is important to public health because of its ability to save lives in the context of a public health emergency, its proven success of reducing stigma associated with substance use, and because of the social determinants of health that it addresses.

There are always more peer groups and work to do. You can join the others who have made this work possible by making a gift to our reducing harms priority today. Follow along with us as we highlight some of the fantastic groups and their work in the coming weeks, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.