The civil society monitoring report 2021

From the Correlation webpage

The Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) published their 2021 civil society monitoring report on 11 May 2022.

The main aim and purpose of C-EHRN monitoring activities is to improve knowledge and information and complement existing data and monitoring efforts in Europe in specific areas of harm reduction based on the perspective of civil society organisations (CSOs). The data collected helps to assess the implementation of certain drug and health policies at the national and local levels and supports our advocacy efforts at the European and EU Member State levels.

The adapted 2021 civil society monitoring incorporated the experiences from the past years. During evaluation meetings with expert groups, it was decided to keep most of the questionnaires in 2020 intact for 2021. That was done both because the questionnaire of 2020 has worked reasonably well and also to allow for comparisons between 2021 and the previous year.

C-EHRN kept our focus on the situation at the city level which allowed for more accurate and precise information. Consequently, the information provided in this report sometimes represents the situation in a particular city or region. Although this information is not representative of a country, it reflects the fact that the situation in a country is diverse and most often dependent upon the approach at the city level. Small modifications were made for clarity in the sections on essential harm reduction services, overdose prevention, Hepatitis C, civil society involvement and new drug trends. More modifications were made in the COVID-19 section to cover a new phase of the pandemic.

In addition to the survey, and on an experimental basis, the expert groups decided to try new forms of data collection. In 2 countries – Finland and the UK – online Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) will be performed to gather data on new drug trends. That was decided due to the low response rate in the online survey and also due to feedback from our Focal Points that this remains the most difficult section of the survey to complete.

More than one hundred organisations and individuals from 34 European countries have contributed to this Monitoring Report. Thanks go to our Focal Points and associated experts at the national and local levels who have filled in the online questionnaire and provided all information and data on time. Without their dedication and commitment, we would not have been able to produce this report.

To read the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

Harm Reduction Key Principles in Homeless Services

Correlation presented the Key Principles of Harm Reduction – an innovative set of tools developed through the HR4Homelessness Project. The innovation lies in their capacity to translate existing experiences and knowledge on Harm Reduction into actionable guidance through an open, iterative and evolving framework.

HR4Homelessness – Integrating Harm Reduction Services in Homelessness Service is an Erasmus+ Project aiming at improving Harm Reduction services for people experiencing homelessness in Europe. The project involves organisations working in the field of homelessness and drug use FEANTSA (Belgium), C-EHRN / De Regenboog Groep (NL), Rights Reporter Foundation (HU), Simon Communities of Ireland (Ireland), Health Team City of Copenhagen (DK), Norte Vida (PT) and SMES-B (Belgium).

The Key Principles aim to contribute to improving and transforming the services that shape access to and the quality of care that people experiencing homelessness who use drugs or alcohol receive. Further, they aim to support these services to respond to conditions that negatively influence marginalised and underserved communities’ social and health outcomes.

The document offers service providers to implement activities that respect the rights of people experiencing homelessness who use drugs or alcohol, which are informed by evidence. It also intends to advance social justice transformations, respect service user decisions and priorities, and contribute to eliminating stigma and discrimination of the communities they work for and with.

To access the document, please follow this link>>>.

 

Harm Reduction Lab on Funding and Sustainability challenges for HR services in Europe

Correlation offers Harm Reduction Labs as a space for collectively imagine what harm reduction can be. The Harm Reduction Labs will offer the possibility to explore collective solutions, as well to imagine what harm reduction can be. In addition to exploring current themes and approached within the harm reduction movement, each Lab will offer space to come together and to identify common and urgent future questions that address broader topics of social justice, bodily autonomy and care, among others. You can find more about this interesting serial following this link>>>.

During the Lab on Funding and Sustainability challenges for HR services in Europe that is offered for Thursday 14 October, Correlation want to address different problem areas and challenges, covering:

  • The lack of funding in different European regions (CEE, SEE and SE)
  • Lack of funding for community-led programmes
  • Lack of funding for advocacy and civil society engagement
  • Causes and impact of the funding challenge
  • Opportunities and needs for advocacy and action
  • Good Practice Examples
  • Innovative approaches

Our Executive Director will be part of the panel, as well as a few other colleagues from the region. The link to the Lab is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85989331796.

 

Monitoring Report 2020 Executive Summary

A civil society-led monitoring of harm reduction can play an essential role in improving service delivery and contribute to the generation of crucial data for advocacy purposes. Civil society organisations (CSO’s) work directly for, and with, people who use drugs (PWUD) and have a good understanding of their daily needs. Their inside knowledge is critical in developing adequate drug policies and practices.

To complement the work of other monitoring agencies, and to bring insight into how the implementation of harm reduction occurs, Correlation -European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) has published a report on Civil Society Monitoring of Harm Reduction in Europe since 2019. It gathers data on the experiences of harm reduction service providers and service users at ground level, building on a network of national Focal Points (FPs) in Europe. For the 2020 monitoring, C-EHRN includes 35 FPs in 34 countries, as shown in the map below. To get insight at the implementation level, and to profit from the experiences and expertise of FPs, the 2020 monitoring focuses mostly on cities rather than countries.

To read the Executive Summary, available also in several languages, follow this link>>>.

 

Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network has published a factsheet on “Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids“.

This factsheet aims to provide information to reduce the risk of unintentionally consuming synthetic cannabinoids by users of illegal cannabis containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) where they are unable to take advantage of drug checking services; if available, so-called Cannabidiol (CBD) Quick Tests can be used. Since the beginning of 2020, legal CBD cannabis has increasingly been mixed with synthetic cannabinoids and sold as illegal THC cannabis in Switzerland.

You can read the factsheet, available also in French and Italian, as well as many other factsheets Correlation produced, following this link>>>.

 

Updates on the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference

After being postponed from 2020 to this year due to coronavirus pandemic, the Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) are proud to finally re-announce the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference. Together with Czech organisation Sananim, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and other important stakeholders from Europe they are currently constructing its exciting programme.

The conference will present the latest harm reduction developments and good, innovative practices. It will discuss drug policy and its implications on People Who Use Drugs and other marginalised groups, such as sex workers and People Living with HIV/Aids. It intends to discuss different perspectives on harm reduction, social inclusion and related topics. Finally, the conference provides an appropriate platform to create links and synergies between national and European stakeholders.

The 5th European Harm Reduction Conference targets professionals from the community, professionals working in the broader area of harm reduction, policy-makers and politicians, advocacy representatives, researchers, and media representatives.

With the out role of test and vaccination strategies in Europe, you are invited to a most probable face-to-face meeting in November. Join us and unmute yourself in the safe and pleasant environment we thrive to guarantee with all necessary measures.

In case of unforeseen developments and a worst-case scenario that might urge a re-cancellation, registration fees will be refunded, and sessions will be transferred to an online format.

Key dates:

  • Registration open: May 2021
  • Abstract submission: 1 May – 1 July
  • Abstract confirmation deadline: 15 September
  • Early Bird rate deadline: 30 September

To read more and register follow this link>>>.

 

Voices of frontline workers

European harm reduction services needed to be innovative and adapt very rapidly in response to the fast-changing landscape of the pandemic and its associated national control measures. Preliminary research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug services and PWUD has noted decreases in available harm reduction services.

Frontline harm reduction workers play a crucial role in public health response during COVID-19 and are instrumental in implementing these rapid-scale changes required to keep vital services operational.

Their experiences during the pandemic provide critical data to understanding the effect of the pandemic on the vulnerable population of PWUD and the health services they depend on.

This Correlation European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) report on the impact of COVID-19 on vital harm reduction services seeks to bring these voices of front-line workers at drug consumption rooms (DCR’s), harm reduction outreach teams and PWUD themselves to highlight their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report includes sections on:

  • General Harm Reduction Response to COVID-19
  • Drug Consumption Rooms
  • Outreach services
  • Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST)
  • Government & municipality response
  • Drug Supply
  • Digital and other Innovations
  • User experiences in the streets
  • Homelessness
  • Social Isolation for PWUD

Our member organisations from Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece contributed to the report with their experience.

The briefing paper is available following this link>>>.

 

European Harm Reduction Sessions

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network we held a day-long webinar of four major sessions in lieu of the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference which is recently postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are the links to all the session recordings

What can we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 and the impact on harm reduction in Europe

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Special edition launch of the Harm Reduction Journal

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Different approaches for decriminalisation – what works?

Watch here>>>

 

 

 


Engaging with policymakers and the public to promote ethical drug policy

Watch here>>>

The full length of the film “Putting UK Drug Policy into Focus” is available here>>>.

 

 

 

The next Harm Reduction Session Challenges and opportunities to monitor new drug trends by civil society organisations (CSOs) will be held on 16 December, 15:00 – 16:30 CET,

Registrations are now open. Find out more and register following this link>>>.

 

Special issue on the state of harm reduction in Europe

In collaboration with Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), the Harm Reduction Journal is planning a special thematic series on the state of harm reduction in Europe, to be launched at the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference in Prague, 4-6 November 2020.

Partners are seeking submission especially of articles reporting on contemporary research findings, but also commentaries on aspects of harm reduction policy and programming – anywhere regionally or locally in broader Europe, and on any issue to which the harm reduction approach is relevant.

Please see the Call for Papers in this link: https://www.biomedcentral.com/collections/HR-Europe2020 and please pass this Call on to your colleagues and networks who may be interested in submitting an article for consideration for publication.

A day for side events

While plenary session was open for governmental speeches and the Committee of Whole worked on texts of resolutions, the second day of the CND 2020 was for civil society organisations mainly dedicated to side events.

Side events

Young people use drugs – Bridging the gap between Human Rights and Key Affected Populations

Organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy

International guidelines on human rights and drug policy, produced by UNODC, have a just a few paragraphs on children who have right to protection from drugs and women who use drugs which human rights should be protected, but don’t have reference on young people who use drugs.

The Barcelona declaration (which “declares that the War On Drugs is a war on Womxn Who Use Drugs”), Par4digma coalition of youth lead organisations from across the world transforming drug policy and Youth and Incarceration/Forced Treatment (rehabilitation) in Nigeria, where this method is employed to patients that are treated as “harmful”, were presented. Presenters also called that the sanctions against drug use should be based on the economic situation of the user.

Improving outreach and multidisciplinary approach towards people who use drugs and people in recovery in Western Balkan countries

Organized by Serbia, and Association Izlazak, Preporod/Rebirth, Proslavi Oporavak/Celebrate Recovery and World Federation Against Drugs

Results of the regional project “Choose Recovery” which is a joint cooperation between World Federation Against Drugs and three civil society organisations in the Balkan region: Izlazak, Celebrate Recovery and Preporod, were presented. The three organisation are working within the recovery field and providing support services to active users, individuals in recovery and members of their families, and they are actively involved in shaping drug policies in their countries.

Also, The Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia presented their work, emphasizing partnership with the civil society as one of the successes of their work.

Comprehensive and evidence-based approach in tackling the world drug problem

Organized by Croatia, and European Union and UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs

The slogan of the Croatian presidency “A strong Europe in a challenging world”

Croatian strongly recommends implementation of all universal conventions dealing with drugs.

After protocolled introductions from the Ambassador of Croatia and Executive Director of UNODC, State secretary in the Ministry of Health Tomislav Dulibić presented Croatian experiences in evidence-based approach to drug problem. He emphasized that Croatia introduced Minimum standards for prevention of addiction in the educational system, implemented a research project “Evaluation of drug treatment in the Republic of Croatia” and performed evaluation of treatment and distribution of substitution therapy.

Alexis Goosdeel underlined that EMCDDA cooperates with Croatia since 2002. They are an excellent experience of serious and comprehensive approach towards accession to EU in the area of drugs. EMCDDA collects data for a purpose, not for statistics.

Victor Sannes, deputy director in the Food, Health Protection and Prevention Directorate presented various projects from The Netherlands.

Gilberto Gerra, UNODC: 60% of countries of the World have health treatment of drug users under ministries of interior or justice!

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.

Homelessness and substance use in city centres: Balanced and evidence-based policies

Organized by Greece, and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network, Pompidou Group/Council of Europe and Santé Mentale et Exclusion Sociale – Europe

Dr Christos Koumitsidis, National Drug Coordinator, Greece: Homelessness in downtown Athens is an important challenge, exacerbated by factors such mental health conditions, substance use problems, the financial crisis and the influx of refugees fleeing war. These issues do not exist in isolation, they intersect and potentiate vulnerability. Homelessness is a common ground.

Katrin Prins-Schiffer, Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network / De Regenboog Groep: We see the same in the harm reduction and addiction sectors; usually homelessness is left behind. Only Finland has decreased homelessness. They have invested a lot in Housing First. All other countries report increases in homelessness. Part of the problem is that the housing market is under a lot of pressure, mostly because of a lack of affordable housing. We have 150,000 rent-controlled dwellings in Amsterdam; but this is not a lot for a city of 1.2 million; and it’s really hard to access these dwellings. In terms of reasons for homelessness, the majority are about impending evictions or end of renting contract, and leaving home after. There is an ‘integrated care system’ whereby local governments are responsible for housing and homeless care. In terms of the system’s main principles, it’s about focusing on the overall needs; not just drug use, homelessness or mental health. It’s a kind of self-sufficiency matrix including finances, housing, relationships, legal problems, community participation. This system is based on the needs on the individual, not on the organisation and its specific focus.

Victor Soto, SMES Europe: Why are people homeless? Policies (housing policies, health policies) and individual situations (mental conditions, traumatic events, etc.). So we need to address both dimensions. Homelessness is not a fixed category, it should be approach through different lines of action.

Pompidou Group: As the operational context was been changing, stakeholders in this field need to be flexible, in line with operational realities. Common guiding principles need to be developed and revised as practice develops. To develop these principles, we need to learn from each other: what works and what doesn’t, find common ground for cooperation and support.