IN COLLABORATION WITH JUDSON MEMORIAL CHURCH, HARM REDUCTION COALITION LAUNCHED A UNIQUE INITIATIVE TO BUILD BRIDGES BETWEEN HARM REDUCTION AND FAITH COMMUNITIES.
Communities of faith and their leadership possess significant influence and potential to reshape discourse on the drugs issue and opioid crisis through the promotion of theological praxis rooted in liberation, reform, and justice.
Since its inception in Fall 2017, Faith in Harm Reduction has contributed thought leadership, vision, and direction for overdose and other harm reduction advocacy events and conferences. We are dedicated to building capacity and mobilizing communities at the intersection of harm reduction and faith-based organizing. Born from conversations with communities of faith, harm reduction organizations, and unions of people who use drugs throughout the United States, Faith in Harm Reduction fills a unique role as connector, community mobilizer, and capacity builder, fostering innovative-and previously untapped—cross-sector collaborations to expand and strengthen harm reduction in principle, practice, and policy.
Build a network of faith leaders that will advance responses to the overdose crisis that are rooted in compassion, dignity, and social justice
Center the leadership and wisdom of people with lived experience, particularly among communities of color
Advocate for a spiritual and theological approach to address the opioid crisis and other harms of racialized drug policy
Support public policies that expand harm reduction and other community-led, evidence-based health and wellness opportunities for people who use drugs
Challenge the root causes that increase vulnerability to drug-related harm
Encourage a movement of healing, resilience, and resistance among people who use drugs, the harm reduction community, and our allies
Who: NCHRC is a comprehensive harm reduction program. NCHRC engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for people impacted by drug use, sex work, overdose, gender, STIs, HIV, and hepatitis. NCHRC also provides resources and support to the law enforcement, public health, and provider communities. Vision: We believe that the key to bringing law enforcement, sex workers, crack smokers, injection drug users and others who engage in high-risk activities and services closer to prevention and health services are to treat every person, regardless of their circumstance or condition, with dignity and respect. NCHRC’s nonjudgmental approach allows our members to move through a process of self- discovery, and self-empowerment at their own pace. By developing relationships based on honesty, community, tolerance, and cooperation, our staff helps people live healthier and more fulfilling lives while raising the health index of the community. What is Harm Reduction: Harm reduction refers to a range of public health policies designed to reduce the harmful consequences associated with drug use, sex work, and other high-risk activities. Harm reduction is an alternative and, in some cases, a complement to the more conventional approaches of demand and supply reduction.
Description: Olive Branch Ministry was founded by Karen Lowe and Michelle Mathis as a way to bring faith-based harm reduction to the Foothills area of NC. Our desire is to extend hope and extend life through nonjudgemental interactions with those we are called to serve. Olive Branch initially partnered with local agencies and faith groups to provide health and wellness education, HIV testing and homeless outreach to Catawba County and the surrounding area. As years passed, Olive Branch’s outreach ministry grew and as of 2018, serves seven counties in western North Carolina. The organization partners with local human service organizations, faith communities, hospitals, mental and public health agencies, and private corporations and citizens to work with those in need of harm reduction services. What: Homeless Outreach, Social Justice Advocacy, and Voter Education, Syringe Exchange and Naloxone Distribution, Where: Seven counties in western North Carolina Why: We believe that we are called to serve marginalized people through faith-based Harm Reduction. This takes various forms, depending on who we are working with and what their needs are. We believe in honoring and respecting each’s journey. No judgment. Just Love. We are about one mission: Extending Hope. Extending Life.
Down Home, North Carolina is a new organizing project led by the working people of North Carolina’s small towns and rural communities. Together, we are taking action to increase democracy, grow the good in our communities, and pass a healthy and just home down to our grandbabies. Who: We are neighbors, rooted in the community, coming together to grow our state into a place that works for us, not just the rich and powerful. We organize to grow democracy and improve the quality of life so that our grandbabies inherent a state that is healthy and just. Vision: All are welcome in Down Home North Carolina. We unite to build the power and raise the voices of working people in small town and rural North Carolina in order to take action on the issues that matter to us. By weaving together our different experiences, we can shape a democracy that serves working people, where our labor is valued, and our food, water, and land are healthy. Come on in Y’all, we’ve got work to do. Where: We are based in Western North Carolina.
Who: NC Urban Survivor’s Union is a union of former and active drug users dedicated to improving the health and social circumstances of people that use drugs. What:
- Naloxone Distribution, Workshops/ Classes, Overdose Prevention, HIV, HCV, Hepatitis and STI prevention, substance use moderation, Harm Reduction, Syringe Exchange, Working with people that use drugs, Consumption rooms, Safe Injection Facilities
- Services: Health coach, Syringe Access, Sterile Supplies Bio-hazard collection, Naloxone Distribution
- Groups: Community Organizing: Harm Reduction Support Group
Where :1114 Grove Street Greensboro, NC 27403 Why : Urban Survivor’s Union is a grassroots coalition of drug users dedicated to ensuring respect, dignity and social justice for our community. We contest the dominant culture’s misguided attitudes and biases about drug use and drug users. USU stands for a new direction for drug users. Our programs are centered on improving conditions for people that use drugs, their families, and communities.
Blythe Barnow: “I went to seminary to learn how to hold spiritual space for the communities I come from. People deemed “too much” for the church. Too difficult, too poor, too addicted, too queer, too sexual, too political. These are the people who raised me. These are the people who taught me about the sacred. I put myself through seminary by working at the Harm Reduction Coalition. Now that I’ve graduated, I am preaching, leading workshops, creating rituals, and pursuing ordination in the United Church of Christ (UCC).”
Blythe created a service called Naloxone Saves to support faith communities and call them to engage and respond to the crisis with spiritual tools.