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Update:

Somerset West Community Health Centre will sunset the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (D.O.P.E.) program.

June 28, 2024 (Ottawa) — Somerset West Community Health Centre regrets to announce the closure of our Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (D.O.P.E.) program on Sunday, June 30th (inclusive).

Funded through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), the DOPE Team initially received a three-year grant, which was extended to the maximum length of five years, ending on March 31, 2024. Somerset West used internal resources to extend the program to June 30th, 2024, in hopes that our new proposal to SUAP would be funded. Despite our relentless efforts we have been unable to secure additional funding to sustain this critical initiative.

Since 2019, the DOPE Team has made a profound impact, engaging in over 31,000 interactions with individuals who use drugs in Ottawa. This program, a partnership between Somerset West, Carlington, and Centretown Community Health Centres, has been crucial in addressing the needs of our community, particularly in areas marked by poverty, income insecurity, homelessness, housing precarity, and high rates of overdose deaths. Its unique approach, employing individuals with lived and living experience of substance use, has allowed us to reach those facing the most complex barriers to care, including African, Caribbean, Black, and Indigenous communities.

The DOPE Team’s outreach efforts, conducted during non-traditional hours and in non-traditional locations, have been pivotal in providing timely and compassionate support, often without the need for police or paramedic involvement. This model not only enhances safety for service users and the community but also reduces the strain on emergency services.

While the DOPE program will be ending, our commitment to supporting populations that experience vulnerabilities remains steadfast. Our Homeless Crisis Outreach team continues to operate 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They can be reached at 613-447-0029 or homelessoutreach@swchc.on.ca

 

Other evening services within the Centretown area are available such as Centre 507, The Well, and Operation Come Home. Please see their websites for more information.

 

We want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to our community partners for their unwavering support throughout these years. Your collaboration has been instrumental in the program's success and has significantly contributed to the positive outcomes we have achieved together.

Additionally, we would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of our dedicated staff. Their commitment, passion, and tireless work have been the backbone of this flagship program, enabling it to make such a significant difference in our community.

While we are deeply saddened by the closure of the D.O.P.E. program, we remain hopeful that the spirit of its mission will continue to inspire and inform future initiatives. We are committed to exploring new ways to address the needs of our community and to support individuals affected by substance use.

 

For further inquiries or support please connect with Roger Kabuya, the Senior Manager of the Harm Reduction Department at rkabuya@swchc.on.ca

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