An Alberta-based group is coming to Red Deer to help improve the quality of life for those in the drug-using community.
Alberta Addicts Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly, a provincial harm-reduction organization with chapters in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, hosted an information session in front of Turning Point in downtown Red Deer Friday afternoon.
“The opioid epidemic is a crisis and Albertans are dying at an alarming rate, and our government is doing very little about it,” said Marie Ferraro, AAWEAR provincial community engagement co-ordinator.
“We hope to build support, resources and awareness around the drug-using community, as well as advocate for kinder, safer drug-using policies and build fellowship in the community.”
AAWEAR is now launching its fourth chapter in Red Deer. To become a member of the group, people have to attend three community meetings. The locations of those meetings is still being determined, but there will be two a month.
Ferraro said one of AAWEAR’s “foundational services” has been harm-reduction outreach, via street-level outreach.
“We go out, we connect with the houseless community, we support them with clean using supplies and a bridge to resources if they need it,” said Ferraro.
“We often partner with a lot of other organizations, like today we’re working with Turning Point. Turning Point is such an incredible organization that provides a lot of services and we feel that we can help with connection.”
AAWEAR is comprised of individuals with a history of drug use and allies of the drug-using community.
“Because our community base is either folks who are using or who have a history, we have the ability to connect with folks through a shared lived experience,” said Ferraro.
“It’s been super beneficial in our ability to make connections because we have this fundamental understanding of what they may be going through. Our lives may look different, but we’ve had similar struggles.”
For more information on the organization, visit www.aawear.org.