“This service is vital,” described John Yarschenko, executive director of The Bridge Outreach.
“It’s intended to reach people that really aren’t accessing other services, so its success is really saving lives right now.”
The supplies available range from drug testing strips, naloxone kits and bubble pipes, to sharps disposable boxes and screens. The service is available to anyone in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country.
“It’s really important that we begin to work with people that historically we haven’t been able to connect with, engage them in the health system and offer support to them,” said Yarschenko.
Delivery of the kits can be arranged seven days a week: Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The Bridge believes offering this service in a discreet manor will also benefit those who have opted not to access harm reduction supplies in the past.
“The population we’re hoping to serve are people who are not accessing services through other sites, they’re not receiving street-level service, they’re not living in Rutland accessing the vending machine,” explained Yarschenko.
“This is a group that hopefully we can begin to engage with and build relationships with.”
Outreach and overdose prevention supervisor at The Bridge, Dean Uechi, says he hopes this new service will provide positive change in the lives of those who access their resources.
“If the person makes that choice to reduce some of the harms that come with using substances, by connecting with the program and getting some of those supplies, it’s sort of a step in the direction of reducing harms and building some connection,” said Uechi.
More than 10,000 British Columbians have been lost due to toxic drugs since April 2016.