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Sharps Recovery and Peer Program is More than a Harm Reduction Initiative

sharps needle pick up with biohazard bucket
sharps disposal bin

In 2020, through funding from the Community Action Initiative Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant, the City of Kamloops, with support from the ASK Wellness Society, piloted the Sharps Recovery and Peer Program—the first of its kind in our community.

This 10-month program engaged 61 individuals with lived and living experience of substance use and offered supported employment to pick up improperly disposed needles along the North Shore business corridor. Over the course of the program, City staff engaged the North Shore Business Improvement Association and business owners, many of which agreed to have sharps disposal containers installed on the exterior of their businesses.

At the completion of the program, one program champion shared, “I felt important, wanted, needed, but most of all I really started to feel like myself again, and I know that I mattered to others. I felt like a regular member of society in a most positive manner”.

The program began as a harm reduction initiative and grew into an opportunity to enhance the community’s resilience and capacity to address the challenges related to substance use. Upon completion of the program, the City of Kamloops and Interior Health funded a project extension into 2021.

Through the Union of BC Municipalities Community Wellness and Harm Reduction Grant, the City has been able to expand the Sharps Recovery and Peer Program to include two additional service providers—The Mustard Seed and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Both providers have facilitated sharps recovery programs with their clients in the past, and the City saw natural alignment with these agencies.

The expansion of this program in 2022 will increase the number of individuals who are able to participate in the Sharps Recovery and Peer Program and expand the geographic scope of the project into additional areas of the community. With the program expansion starting this spring, the City is eager to see more individuals involved in this program, working in a supportive employment capacity.

The social value the Sharps Recovery and Peer Program represents stretches far beyond public safety. Cities across the province are engaging in sharps recovery programs because they know the important role dignified employment plays in reducing stigma and poverty in our communities. This program presents a valuable opportunity to foster community resilience for all members of our community.

The City would like to continue to expand the network of sharps bins in the community through this program. If you are interested in having a sharps bin installed on your business property when more bins become available, visit Kamloops.ca/Sharps.