Speakers at the DDN conference embraced the theme ‘Keep on Moving’. What came out very strongly was that we need to take others along with us as we move – not just peers and colleagues, but people who are not in treatment or connected to services.
We know that many drug-related deaths are outside of treatment, and Rosanna O’Connor of PHE was among those urging us to reach out. Lord Victor Adebowale said we ‘have to work together like never before’ to reach those at the sharp end of the inverse care law (where those in need of health and social care the most tend to get it the least).
Mat Southwell made the strong point of calling on the treatment community to look beyond its doors to the active drug user networks, because ‘when you engage with us you can interact with all those people who don’t use treatment’.
Our debate session on forming a service user network acknowledged that good communication is vital if we are to get anywhere. As Radha Allen from B3 pointed out, ‘chaotic drug users aren’t represented in a lot of service user groups’. Throughout the conference we heard inspirational words and saw the best networking in action. We heard new ideas and real enthusiasm for joining up with others to form an active, diverse and representative network that ‘agrees to disagree’, in the words of Tim Sampey, and gets everybody on board.
Can we do this? We hope so at DDN, and are ready to support communications within a service user initiative. As Jacquie Johnston said, ‘everyone is hardwired for connection’ and this whole diverse community could be its own strongest asset.
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This issue also contains a supplement on end of life care, produced for Manchester Metropolitan University.