Never under-estimate the power of kindness and a safe space. The SWOP project featured in our cover story showcases the best kind of outreach – meeting people at the stage they’re at, offering comfort and safety first and foremost, and then providing the first links to a network of support. It’s a way of working, and a set of values, that we shouldn’t forget in this results-driven age. Outreach work can be so very undervalued as budget cuts bite, but without projects such as this many people would stay under the radar, scarred by trauma and unable to move on.
As so many of you are striving to do your best with limited budgets it’s frustrating to see the spiralling costs of buprenorphine and extremely worrying to think about the effect on clients’ stability and progress. The issues behind the price increase are complicated (page 9) but we are in complete agreement with Roz Gittins (page 8) that the situation must be resolved as quickly as possible.
Getting the medication right is among the many things we know will help to prevent drug-related deaths. After listening to the latest ONS figures, participants of a recent parliamentary meeting wanted more information around the personal stories of those who are recorded as statistics (page 12) – and we already know that austerity, homelessness and leaving prison without the right support are major contributors.
We also know that a clear, evidence-based alcohol strategy could make a vast difference to many lives. The charter (page 15) gives measures that would improve treatment, find those in need of support and protect public health – all the while bringing a substantial return on investment and reducing the burden on the NHS. We hope that government will respond to this important document.
Claire Brown, editor