It’s harder than usual at this time of year for any of us who have lost loved ones or who are struggling to support them through illness. How much more difficult must it be when stigma adds to the pain and heartbreak? Katie’s decision to share her story (page 6) is a courageous one that will help to tackle prejudice on many levels. Storytelling is particularly helpful in the context of family support, as John Taylor discovered when he suggested the idea to his clients at the DAWS Family and Friends service. He found that many had even stopped talking to people closest to them and were working through their trauma alone. Tapping into this form of peer support can offer a valuable source of strength that deserves our encouragement.
As the year comes to a close, conference season has been in full swing and we have reports from HIT Hot Topics (page 12) and the GPs’ conference (page 16). Our write-up of the LJWG’s event on hepatitis C will be in our next issue. The themes may be recurring but there are many new ideas, fresh inspiration and invigorating debates. At HIT there was an interesting discussion about the ‘othering’ of people in society and an invitation to re-examine preconceptions.
And in this spirit of contemplation, we reflect back on another year of cuts and chaos, where we have felt powerless to halt the rise of drug and alcohol-related deaths. But we are also reminded of some important things that make a difference – strong harm reduction, good commissioning, and a commitment to learning from each other.
I hope you enjoy a safe and peaceful festive season and we’ll be back for the February issue. Keep in touch with us over the break – and don’t forget to secure your ticket to the DDN conference on 21 February!
Claire Brown, editor