DDN May2021 May 2021 | Page 12


Be well aware

A powerful new national naloxone and overdose awareness campaign is using the faces of people with lived experience to get its message across

For me it ’ s about saving a life ,’ says harm reduction activist Lee Collingham , one of the faces of the landmark , countrywide naloxone awareness campaign launched last month ( see news , page 5 ). ‘ Some areas still haven ’ t got access to naloxone , and until we have a national programme we need to get the basic messages across .’

What makes the campaign unique is that everyone featured in its posters carries naloxone themselves – having been personally affected by overdose – and has undergone the simple training needed to use it effectively . ‘ I was approached about this campaign because of my interest in saving lives ,’ says Collingham . ‘ I come from a drug-using background and I know that simple things like giving chest compressions and calling an ambulance immediately are so important .’ His input extended well beyond simply posing for a picture , he stresses – healthcare communications group Havas Lynx discussed his experiences with him in detail and took ‘ plenty of shots ’, before he chose the one he was happy with from a smaller selection . ‘ They mocked it all up with the message and explained how it would look in different spaces ,’ he says . ‘ I look like a normal guy on the poster , rather than a homeless person – the whole point of it for me is about getting people on board and making it more personable . You say “ save the life of a heroin addict ” and most people will walk by . There ’ s always been a hierarchy , and heroin is at rock bottom .’
The campaign also reinforces the importance of understanding overdose risks , and the fact that it ’ s been coproduced with people who may have been at risk of overdose themselves is key , the organisers state . ‘ I ' d heard of naloxone but I didn ' t know what it was ,’ says Andy ( pictured left , with bulldog ), who was also part of With You ’ s peer-topeer naloxone programme in Redcar and Cleveland . ‘ We were educated on signs of overdose , what to say , how it worked . Even if I only give out one pack I could have saved one life down the line – that makes me buzz . It gives me confidence .’
The idea behind a public-facing campaign was to deliver something ‘ impactful , emotive and engaging ’, says Stephen Malloy , strategy and public affairs lead at Ethypharm , who provided funding . ‘ Accidental opioid-related overdose deaths are recognised as a public health matter and they are largely avoidable and preventable . That ’ s what
TALKINGDRUGS is encouraging people to share their pictures of the billboards . Take a picture and tag @ TalkingDrugs and @ Release _ drugs and they will share it on their socials . Photo : www . talkingdrugs . org