19,757 steps later (thanks Apple Watch) and I’ve seen more evidence of the need for supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), this time in Dublin.
I am privileged and thankful to have been invited along on this trip by Turning Point Scotland to hear about the work taking place with the Ana Liffey project to support the SIF agenda. I’m also here with one of my Scottish Drugs Forum colleagues, Trish, and there’s a delegation attending from Wales.
We’re due to meet Tony Duffin at the Ana Liffey project later this afternoon so we decide to go exploring. No historic buildings or open-top bus tours for us, but lots of alley ways and dead ends on the rake for discarded injecting equipment – not your usual sightseeing trip.
We seem to have a nose for the right places and before long we’ve come across a very open lane just next to shops and restaurants. It’s quiet with only a couple of people hanging around – one who appears to be on look out and another who is obviously injecting while attempting to conceal this fact under a blanket. As soon as we leave the lane, multiple people appear from nowhere – a sign that they got out the way when they saw us coming.
We get out of their way and soon find another area, again just off one of the main streets. This time there is equipment right next to human excrement. It really is so degrading for people to be in this situation.
We head round to the office and meet our colleagues for some brief introductions before heading back out in groups, each with a ‘tour guide’, ours being Darryl. Darryl takes us round some of the main public injecting areas and talks us through the issues people face, with lots of similarities to Scotland- particularly in relation to polydrug use. The majority of people injecting in public places are homeless, often roofless and some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society.
Having spent recent time in Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre it is incredibly frustrating to visit an area without one with such obvious need.
I look forward to tomorrow where we’ll hear from the staff in more detail regarding the progress in this area. That’s if I don’t interrogate them too much this evening at dinner!
To be continued…