Back in September, we asked about your experiences with the NSS-CoP so far. We also wanted to hear about where you think we should go in future. THANK YOU to everyone who responded! Here are a few highlights of what we found.
First: We always have paid (and always will pay) people with lived and living experience (PWLLE) for contributing their expertise to all our meetings, working groups, and conferences, and we endeavour to pay a fair wage. People frequently mentioned the need for honoraria and sponsorship opportunities for PWLLE participation, so we’d like to be clear that this is our standard practice. Working within a fixed budget, we try to balance pay scales with inclusivity: do we pay five people $100, or one person $500? There is a range of reasonable options and, with your ongoing input, we’ll continue to explore the possibilities.
The top benefits people experienced from being a part of the NSS-CoP were access to resources and information, new knowledge and skills, and an expanded network.
“The CoP is a great network of like-minded folks sharing pertinent, evidence based information.”
New ideas, a sense of community, and opportunities to share information with others scored highly as well, and those all speak to the spirit of the community itself – all of you. Collectively, you have formed a very inclusive space:
“I feel so supported knowing the community is there. I never feel intimidated or like I have imposter syndrome when I attend CoP things. I learn so much from everyone.”
Online events were requested the most:
“Online events are much more accessible - I don't have much support for work travel costs from my employer.”
“Online access is so valuable for those of us across the country, especially in non-urban settings or where safer supply is just in the baby phase. Please continue to host those!”
There was strong support for in-person conferences too:
“Opportunities to build community through in-person gatherings. This work is hard, you can feel alone, so it is restorative to be surrounded by allies.”
While we will always have a strong interdisciplinary approach, we do have some affinity groups for people in specific roles (PWLLE, nurses, program operators, etc.), and you suggested some additional ones. A space for frontline staff was a frequent request.
People offered a long list of potential topics for the community to think about addressing, including program models, best practices for prescribing safer supply, decolonization, PWLLE workplace support, regional issues (including what’s happening with safer supply in other countries), and language issues such as destigmatizing language and working on creating an effective narrative about safer supply:
“How to talk about the benefits of this work to members of the public, decision-makers, etc. We're building a strong evidence base, which is awesome for certain audiences, but goes over the head of regular folks.”
Thank you again to everyone who took the time to offer your thoughts. One of you offered the following, which is a good thought on which to conclude:
“Don't let the prohibition propaganda machine get you down!”