Posted on: 25 May, 2023
A group of individuals who access Cranstoun’s drug and alcohol services in Sandwell are taking a unique approach to breaking down stigma and supporting their local communities.
They have come together to collect drug litter in local parks and public areas, in an effort to promote awareness and educate others about the harms of drug related litter and the importance of proper disposal.
Called the SCORE Team (Sandwell Community Outreach Resources Education) they are a group of people who have used drugs or still do and are working with Cranstoun to manage their substance use.
The team have been keen to give back to the local community and have been organising regular drug litter pick events, in which they scour public areas for discarded needles, syringes, and other drug related items and ensure they are safely removed.
Their goal is to not only promote safe disposal practices but to also challenge the negative stereotypes often associated with drug use and drug users. By taking a proactive approach to addressing drug litter in their community, the team hope to shift the narrative around some of the stigma attached to people who use drugs.
Paul from the SCORE Team, who has helped to organise what is one of many events which will be held across the borough said: “Collecting drug related litter is not only about cleaning up our community but also about breaking down the stigma that surround drug use and people who use drugs.
“We want to show that people who use drugs are just like anyone else in our community, and we care about keeping our area safe and healthy for everyone who lives here.
“The actions of some are not representative of much of our community who do not leave needles in public places which can cause harm and potential distress to our fellow Sandwell citizens.
“Clearly more work still needs to be done to ensure that people don’t ever feel the need to leave paraphernalia on the streets and there should be safe spaces for people to use drugs in clean, safe environments.
“People like us are often just seen as drug users, we’re not. We’re people who care about our community and where we call home, we want to make a difference to our local area and by continuing to get out there and do work like this, we are doing just that.”
Cranstoun are the charity who run the drug and alcohol support service in Sandwell on behalf of Sandwell Council. Simon Wollaston, Team Leader at Cranstoun said: “We are incredibly proud of the initiative taken by the SCORE Team.
“Their dedication to improving the health and safety of our community, as well as their willingness to challenge negative stereotypes around people who use drugs is inspiring.
“By being out there, being visible and doing work like this they are making a positive impact to the area and by working together with other local groups, businesses and the council we can create more inclusive and compassionate communities.”
The SCORE Team have been undertaking work like this for over a year. They hope that this work will inspire others and promote greater understanding for people who have used and do use drugs.
Councillor Syeda Khatun, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Communities, said: “We welcome these clean-ups as part of our drive for a cleaner Sandwell. We urge members of the public who see dangerous litter, including needles and syringes, to call us on 0121 368 1177 so they can be safely removed.”