Juliet’s volunteering story
Juliet is a volunteer on the peer-to-peer naloxone programme in Humankind’s London services.
Volunteer role: Peer-to-peer naloxone programme volunteer
“Naloxone is a drug which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and it saves lives! It’s available in two formulations: as a nasal spray and as an injectable. We currently only distribute the injectable version, but we are soon going to start offering the nasal version which is great because a lot of people are not as comfortable with needles, and we need to give as many people as possible access to this live saving medicine in any form.
“The model of peer-to-peer naloxone has been used in many places around the world including the UK and is a research-backed strategy for getting naloxone into the hands of the people who need it the most. The idea is that people who already engaged with services at Humankind are eligible to be ‘peers’ in the programme and are best suited to talk to people about naloxone because they already have the life experience and knowledge around opioids and naloxone, whether that be personal or otherwise.
“I go out on outreach once a week with peers to talk to people we meet about naloxone. If people are interested, we offer them training and a naloxone kit on the spot. I also have experience as a researcher, so I help with the data side of the project.
“I am from the United States, where we had over 80,000 drug-related deaths in 2021. Tools like opioid substitution treatment, naloxone distribution and education, and drug consumption rooms are all evidence-based tools for addressing this crisis. I have been engaged in research, advocacy, and direct services in efforts to increase access to these services for the past five years in the US. I moved to London last year to pursue my master’s in public health and wanted to engage in similar volunteer work here. I was very excited when I found out Humankind was in the beginning stages of starting a peer-to-peer naloxone programme and wanted to learn about the process of creating and sustaining a successful programme. It has been amazing!
“I believe that nobody deserves to die prematurely, and an opioid overdose is a completely preventable death. Yet still, there were nearly 5,000 drug-related deaths in England and Wales in 2021. I am so grateful to be so graciously accepted as a volunteer in a group of incredible peer educators where we get to educate and offer people a drug that can and does save people’s lives every day around the world. The evidence is there – naloxone saves lives. Our jobs are just to get it into other people’s hands so people who use drugs (and the people around them) will keep each other safe.
“I am also so grateful to the people who accept naloxone from us because they are so generous and patient with me and the peer educators as we endeavour to learn about their life experiences with drugs, drug treatment services, and harm reduction tools like naloxone.”