A Message from K6

Dear Community Members:

The Keeping Six Drop-In is the heartbeat of our organization. Every Tuesday – for over a year – we have looked forward to gathering, as a community and family, to support each other and share our vision for a more just future. However, as the world grapples with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and social spaces close their doors in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, we must suspend the Drop-In until at least April 6, 2020.

We are currently formulating a plan to continue meeting the needs of those of us who rely on the Drop-In. In these ever changing conditions, we are going to continue doing what we do best, which is making people feel safe, supported, connected, and loved. To that end,

this Tuesday March 17, from 3 to 5pm, we will dispatch a street outreach team in the downtown core to distribute a bagged lunch (we know, it’s not our standard three course hot meal, but it’s something!) and harm reduction supplies. We will also be armed with paper and pen to collect information from the community on how these pandemic measures are impacting our people, and to sort out what is needed most so that we can organize accordingly.

It has already become clear to us that the efforts to slow the spread of the virus will disproportionately impact the people we love and care for: people who do not have access to the infrastructure needed to put protective measures into place, and people for whom the shuttering of all drop-in programs and public and communal spaces will mean undue and harmful deprivation. We have been heartened by those who have responded with kindness and collective action to meet the needs of those who are not able to meet them on their own. Facebook groups like Care Mongering Hamilton and impromptu childcare and neighborhood care networks are being pulled together. This is the spirit and approach that is needed from official responses to this pandemic.

Hamilton Drs. Caverhill and Dosani have called on local officials to put measures into place to protect homeless and marginalized people, and Toronto street outreach nurse, Cathy Crowe, has compiled a justice- and science-driven list of recommendations which include increasing the capacity of the shelter system and creating conditions to reduce the spread of the virus. As a community based organization led by people with lived experience of homelessness and drug use, we would add one more recommendation to these wise demands: include us in these discussions and plans; we know how and what will work in very tangible ways. Please don’t shut us out.

As it has always been, defending the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs remains the central focus of our organization.Though these are uncertain times, uncertain times joined us together, and why we stand ready to support our community as it navigates the challenges ahead.

In love and solidarity,

Keeping Six

EST. 2018

Keeping Six – Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League is a community-based organization that defends the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs.