By Hannah Taylor - Drug Reporter
During COVID-19 lockdowns, Youth RISE has seen its members acting quickly on the ground to ensure that the communities of people who use drugs and other marginalized populations have what they need. Adapting to the difficulties of lockdowns and streets becoming more dangerous requires insider knowledge and a lot of trust.
Youth RISE members supported one another throughout the pandemic in terms of harm reduction advice and sharing lessons, but also on a personal level. As a decentralized organization where much of communication is virtual, Youth RISE members were well-adapted to lots of video calls.
Also due to COVID-19, Rory O’Brien’s SSDP chapter and Sensible Minnesota teamed up to get a letter drafted and sent to prevent the eviction of people living in sober living homes. They worked with a state representative to draft and send a letter that informed the administration of sober living homes that the peacetime emergency ban on evictions applied to them. They also disseminated it online, informing those living in these homes of their rights.
When Róisín was SSDP Chapter Leader for Dublin City University, they heard that the university was rewriting their alcohol policy, and saw a window of opportunity. They approached the administration and asked to rewrite their drug policy as well.
“The people who were getting in trouble for drugs were generally not necessarily the people who were doing the most drugs or doing drugs in the most visible way,” she shared, noting different socioeconomic backgrounds as a determinant for who was targeted.