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The Overdose Prevention Society - "Without us, they'd be in an alley, dead"
This is the 5th in the series, "Vancouver's Downtown Eastside: Past and Present”. This week, we meet 3 people from the Overdose Protection Society. Sarah Blyth is one of the co-founders, Amy, one of their managers and Mark, a volunteer. It was difficult to find a quiet place to hold these interviews and we only really succeeded for one of them. When I commented on this, Sarah pointed out that that is one of the difficult realities of the neighbourhood.
We discussed a number of things about the work of this organization, how it saves people’s lives from drug overdose, assists them in finding housing, food and other services during the pandemic and also provides a place for safe haven and community. The residents using this service are numerous, often as a last chance in getting assistance.
In the present day, the Downtown Eastside faces multiple issues all of which have been exacerbated by COVID 19. This, within a population that has been struggling for decades. Amongst these are housing, health; including overdose, mental health and the impact of the pandemic, poverty and homelessness, indigenous reconciliation and policing.
Future episodes will include representatives from various organizations: civic, provincial and grassroots, addressing the task at hand.
The work to be done is not to be underestimated yet the resilience and determination of community members, not commonly recognized, continues to grow. As well as these individuals, we will also be hearing from those who live in the community and call it home.