We call them ‘Meetings’, but in reality they are more like conferences. The meetings name is a holdover from when we used to be just a handful of people sitting in a small room chatting over tea and a biscuit.
More than 200 delegates from all over the UK returned to Birmingham for the National Needle Exchange Forum’s (NNEF) annual meeting in December. Perhaps the most important part of the day was the call to action to raise support for the inclusion of drug treatment services in the Health and Social Care Act, to ensure that local authorities provide at least a ‘minimum package’ of NSP and harm reduction services.
‘A 29-year-old kid dying of sepsis in 2018 in the UK’s second city.’ This was just one drug-related death of many, said National Needle Exchange Forum chair Philippe Bonnet, and reinforced why the focus on harm reduction must not waver and why the work of the NNEF was more vital than ever. Back after a break in holding its annual event, the NNEF presented a packed conference programme that brought together speakers from health, criminal justice, drug treatment, legal services and policy.
Annual meeting, September 25th in Birmingham at the Tally-Ho conference centre. There were presentations on the latest developments on Naloxone, updates from Public Health England as well as updates on the work of the NNEF over the past year.
On Friday 5th December 2014, the NNEF held its latest ‘All Day Meeting’ – hosted by the Oasis Partnership in High Wycombe, and sponsored by Frontier Medical. More than 90 people attended this free event, coming from all over the UK. The day’s agenda was split into a series of informative sessions – including presentations from Public Health England, leading academics, needle exchange workers, drug user activists and leading experts.
‘We have no budget for training.’ We heard this plenty of times at previous NNEF events – when budgets get tight, one of the first casualties is staff training. Yet training is essential for this sector. We often have relatively high staff turnover, and staff need to be empowered with the knowledge and confidence to provide the best advice to our clients.
Keeping harm reduction at the heart of drug strategy was a key concern of the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF)’s annual meeting. This year it was held in Bournemouth and drew enthusiastic attendance from needle exchange workers from all over the country.
This years conference focused on Harm Reduction and where it stands in relation to the Recovery Agenda. Although initially there was a planned AGM meeting planning group members decided to have this at a separate time due to pressing forum issues arising.
This year’s event hosted by Bristol Drugs Project celebrated the achievements of needle exchange to date in the UK and explore the direction of Needle Exchange in light of changing injecting drug use trends and UK drug policy. The day was divided between main presentations and a number of parallel ones, however we only have four of these online.
The meeting showcased examples of good practice from across the UK. There was a special focus on the practical, ‘bolt-on’ services that can easily be delivered alongside needle and syringe exchange to improve appeal, client contact numbers and service quality.
The National Needle Exchange Forum hosted an ‘Open Session’ at the National Conference on Injecting Drug Use (NCIDU) in Glasgow on Monday 26th October 2009. The session was run by the Gold Standards Team and entitled ‘From Peer to Infinity: Engaging Peers as Partners in Needle Exchange Delivery’.
Here at the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF), we also moderate an open access
email discussion group to help connect our members and allies, and anyone interested in needle and syringe programmes in the UK. This is a Google group email list and we encourage anyone interested in getting more involved to join and connect with other likeminded colleagues.