BRIDGES Coalition Launches Campaign Advocating for Overdose Prevention Sites

The BRIDGES Coalition launches the “Yes On My Block” Campaign to promote community support for overdose prevention sites (OPS) in Baltimore. The campaign launches on Overdose Awareness Day 2021 in recognition of the desperate need to support bold new strategies to save lives from overdose.



 

BRIDGES Coalition Launches ‘Yes On My Block’ Campaign Advocating for Overdose Prevention Sites
The Coalition launches the campaign on International Overdose Awareness Day

 

BRIDGES Coalition Launches ‘Yes On My Block’ Campaign Advocating for Overdose Prevention Sites The Coalition launches the campaign on International Overdose Awareness Day August 31, 2021 | Baltimore, MD -- The BRIDGES Coalition launches the “Yes On My Block” Campaign to promote community support for overdose prevention sites (OPS) in Baltimore. The campaign launches on Overdose Awareness Day 2021 in recognition of the desperate need to support bold new strategies to save lives from overdose.

Yes On My Block is inspired by a powerful display at a Maryland Legislative Senate committee hearing, during which dozens of BRIDGES members and other OPS advocates stated “Yes, I want an overdose prevention site on my block” in response to the committee comment “I can’t think of anyone in this room who would want this on their block” (starting at time mark 3:20:00).

“We BRIDGES organizers have had conversations with thousands of people through dozens of events. We know there is a groundswell of community support for OPS across Maryland and definitely in Baltimore City” said Ron Phillips of Bmore POWER. Some policymakers already hear the call for bold, community-based solutions to end overdose in our city.

 “We must accept that the way we’ve dealt with people who use drugs is wrong and has not saved lives. Central to my vision for a safer Baltimore is implementing an evidence-based, harm reduction approach — one that is rooted in public health,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Continuing our education and advocacy efforts around overdose prevention sites is critical to how we get there.”

In Baltimore, the overdose fatality rate in 2020 was 954 opioid overdose deaths, up from 851 in 2019. Over 100 evidence-based, peer-reviewed studies conducted over 30 years have consistently proven the positive impacts of OPS. A study in Vancouver, Canada showed a 50% drop in discarded syringes and people injecting in public within 12 weeks of opening Insite, the city’s first supervised injection facility. A 2017 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that a single OPS would save Baltimore City roughly $7.8 million per year at an annual cost of $1.8 million. Since 2017, over 30 community based organizations have come together to form the Baltimore-based BRIDGES Coalition for Overdose Prevention Sites. Coalition leaders include Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, Progressive Maryland, Communities United, SPARC Center, Bmore POWER, Maryland Peer Advisory Council, Behavioral Health System-Baltimore, and hundreds of peer advocates, faith leaders, and residents. “People need to know they’re not alone.

Many times people use alone because they feel alone,” East Baltimore resident, Ms. Kelly, shared with BRIDGES members at a demonstration overdose prevention site in the McElderry Park neighborhood. “I support ‘Yes, On My Block' to safely support, engage and sustain lives within my community,” says resident and BRIDGES leader Tiffinee Scott of the Maryland Peer Advisory Council. “I work closely with Pastor Simmons on overdose prevention at Simmons Memorial Baptist Church in my neighborhood of Sandtown in West Baltimore. We have the whole community behind us saying yes on our block, and that’s what we need to get politicians to hear us on,” says BRIDGES co-founder Ricky Morris of Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition. “Fentanyl has changed the landscape in Baltimore City to the point where new and innovative solutions are needed to save and improve lives. Overdose prevention sites fit that bill and having one in our clinic's neighborhood would support so many residents,” says service provider and BRIDGES member Vicky Walters of REACH Health Services on Maryland Avenue in the Station North neighborhood.

How to get involved: sign our petition at actionnetwork.org/petitions/bmore-yes-to-ops and contact [email protected] to set up a Yes on My Block visual display in your neighborhood, organization, place of worship, or place of business.