Working towards a Dream Drop-In

Drop-in centres for people who use drugs come in many sizes and shapes. Some offer a safe space for people to take a break from a chaotic life on the streets. Others focus more on a set of health services to test for HIV, provide basic medical aid or treat abscesses caused by injection.

In countries where opioid substitution treatment is available, drop-in centres can function as a dispensary. And in countries like the Netherlands safe spaces also allow consumption of drugs indoors.

So, what makes an ideal drop-in centre?

Regardless of the legal framework or financial possibilities, there are a few simple preconditions that make every space welcoming. Mainline worked on that 'dream drop-in' through a participatory exercise in Cape Town, South Africa. This centre is operated by TB/HIV Care Association.

The Cape Town drop-in for people who use drugs and sex workers encountered some practical issues. The workshops for staff and beneficiaries addressed drop-in centre basics, acceptable house rules, the services that clients find beneficial, and the basics around communication and interaction. The end of the week was marked with a concrete plan of action to improve the centre according to the beneficiaries’ needs, but within the legal and financial possibilities.

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