For the most up-to-date information regarding our response to COVID-19, please monitor our COVID-19 Info Centre or our Twitter account.

K6 & HAMSMaRT Newsletter no. 1

Dear HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six Supporters,

Hello! What a wild week it has been in the world, and right here in Hamilton. We hope you are all staying well, and finding ways to socially connect while physically distancing. Thanks to everyone for their support as we get our COVID-19 response up and running.

We have decided to do a weekly newsletter to keep people informed about what is happening, and opportunities to support this work. We have realized over the last week that we are not responding for a few weeks, but rather for a few months to a year. So, bear with us as we get organized to do this work for the long haul. We can’t wait to draw on all of you who have offered to volunteer, and details about how to get involved will be coming in about a week.

The core organizing group met yesterday, and based on our capacity and what we are hearing from people on the street, we will be trying to do outreach three times per week. This will be Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons. This week it will be core organizers doing outreach, and we will be asking for new volunteers to help out starting in one week. We are finalizing our social distancing protocols to try and keep street outreach as safe as possible for everyone involved.

For medical personnel who have offered to volunteer at the isolation sites, we have passed along your contact information to the City of Hamilton who is coordinating the sites. We will keep you posted if we have any new information about these.

Thanks to Mary, who is producing infographics to share what we are hearing on outreach. The first few are attached to this email, and we will share them each week. You can also find them on our twitter accounts @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix. The key themes we are hearing are that many services have shut down; people have nowhere to go especially during the day to get warm, use the washroom, or wash their hands; people need food and warmth and shelter; and people are very worried about being isolated or quarantined and as a result being forced into withdrawal from opioids or alcohol.

Finally, a note for us all to consider. Health is political. Responses to pandemics are political. As we see who is cared for and who is left behind during this crisis, we know this is a direct result of who has power and resources and who does not. We provide direct support to people who are homeless and who use drugs as an act of solidarity with our communities. We ask government leaders to listen to and act on the advice of people who are most affected, who are homeless, who use drugs. This is part of our work towards a more just world where everyone has access to the relationships, resources, and power they need to determine their own health and the health of their communities.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEK:

DONATE (or ask people in your network to donate) https://keepingsix.org/support/

VOLUNTEER Do you have a front porch/outdoor drop off zone and storage space to accept donations of warm hats, mitts, and socks? If so, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!

DONATE warm hats, warm wool socks, warm mitts (stay tuned for details on where to donate once we have procured a place)

VOLUNTEER Are you asymptomatic, with limited exposure to potential COVID-19 cases, and baking skills? We are looking for a few people to donate their time and skill to make home baked goods for bagged lunches. If this is you, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!

DONATE juice boxes, pop, and/or groceries for baking, as requested by our bakers. If you can provide these, email us volunteer@keepingsix.org and let us know, we need you!

DONATE wagons for outreach. We need 3 more large folding canvas wagons. If you are willing to temporarily lend yours or know someone who would email volunteer@keepingsix.org so we can coordinate drop off.

AMPLIFY our messages on twitter @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix and by forwarding this email, so that decision makers LISTEN to people who are homeless and/or who use drugs about what they need right now

In solidarity,

Organizers from Keeping Six and HAMSMaRT

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.