PHS Community Services Society

July 11, 2012 03:00 ET

Lessons From the Demilitarized Zone in North America's Drug War: Free Public Presentations

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jul 11, 2012) - In Vancouver, Canada, there is a 1000-square-foot sanctuary for intravenous drug users where it is legal to inject heroin and other illegal drugs. This unique facility is called Insite and for years Canada''s Conservative government had been trying to shut it down. The non-profit society that runs the facility fought alongside drug users who depend on Insite to save it-all the way to Canada''s Supreme Court. In September of 2011 the PHS Community Services Society won an unprecedented victory with a unanimous decision to keep the facility open.

Now founders Liz Evans and Dr. Dan Small are coming to the UK to share lessons from the battle and talk about how lives can be saved in the UK.

With more than 900 visits per day, Insite is the most used program of its kind in the world. Started in 2003 as a response to an epidemic of overdose deaths in Vancouver''s Downtown Eastside, it has since been proven in over 50 published independent studies to reduce the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, reduce public disorder, save money, and prevent overdose deaths. 

When Evans and Small first arrived in the Downtown Eastside more than 20 years ago, clean needles were scarce and unsafe injection practices were the norm. This was a time when very little about harm reduction was understood in North America, but academics, health care providers, and community outreach workers from London and Liverpool were global leaders in the field. Since then, the UK has fallen behind.

With these conversations, Evans and Small hope to share insight from Vancouver to help UK policy makers move past their failed drug war. Both are free public presentations.

Thursday, July 12, at 1pm
St. Martin in the Fields, St. Martin''s Hall
Trafalgar Square, London
Thursday, July 19, at 1pm
Trinity Arts Centre, Main Hall
Trinity Road, Bristol

Liz Evans, a psychiatric nurse, is the Executive Director and co-founder of the PHS. For her work in Vancouver''s Downtown Eastside, Liz has been named British Columbia''s Health Advocate of the year and has been awarded the Queen''s Golden Jubilee Award for Community Services.

Dr. Dan Small, PhD, M.Phil, is a director and co-founder of the PHS and an advocate for a comprehensive evidence-based approach to addiction. He played a lead role in the establishment of Insite and its validation in the Canadian Supreme Court. Dr. Small is a University of British Columbia Medical Anthropology Professor and Finance Chair of the Medical Council of Canada.

The PHS Community Services Society is a health and housing non-profit operating in Vancouver''s Downtown Eastside. The services the PHS provides include supportive housing, emergency shelters, medical and dental care, nutrition, and basic banking services. Detox and harm reduction services include a managed alcohol program, a needle exchange, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and North America''s first and only safe injection facility, Insite.

Contact Information

  • PHS Community Services Society
    Mark Townsend