The Phoenix Recovery Project (PRP) recently launched a Street-Based Intervention programme that offers meals to drug addicts living on the streets while also providing first line treatment, including making referrals for them to get medical help.
Head of PRP Clarence Young told Stabroek News that the initiative was launched three months ago and he deemed it a success, saying that on three occasions they saw in excess of 25 persons. So far, they have been in the Bourda area and at the corner of High and Hadfield streets. There are plans to go to other areas, such as La Penitence and Campbellville. The programme is being funded by PRP and US-based non-governmental organization Hearts for Guyana.
The programme is facilitated through a mobile canteen and on board there are trained gatekeepers—recovering addicts who are familiar with the communities. Pamphlets and brochures are distributed on the theme of drugs and drugs use. The programme aims to minimize health and social issues, reach out to those who would not seek out rehabilitation services, and gather data to inform policy.
Young described the programme as a multi-faceted one. He said counsellors, who offer hot meals, interact with the users and compile data. They provide basic first aid to those in need and make the relevant referrals. The affected persons are also encouraged to be tested for HIV and they are directed to the nearest voluntary counselling and testing sites. Condoms are also distributed.
According to Young, one of the high points of the last three months was the fact that one of the chest clinic volunteers was able to re-establish contact with some clients who had stopped going there for treatment.
Young is hoping that he may be able to persuade an organization to fund research among this group, which he noted is the forgotten vulnerable at-risk group. It is hoped that the data accumulated will be used to provide more assistance for the group around the country. Already, PRP has managed to get funding for two of the persons-a male and a female-to be part of its residential treatment programme at Mon Repos.