Mobile overdose prevention RV to hit streets

Sunshine House trying to raise $105k for testing equipment

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BY KELSEY JAMES

STAFF REPORTER

CENTENNIAL

Photo by Kelsey James Sunshine House staff have been looking to create a mobile overdose prevention site for approximately six years, according to executive director Levi Foy.

A Winnipeg resource centre will be hitting the streets this summer in a new mobile overdose prevention site.

Sunshine House, located at 646 Logan Ave. in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood, recently purchased a 26-foot mobile home for the project, which will operate five to six days a week in Winnipeg’s Central, West End, North End and Point Douglas communities.

But before the initiative can launch in August, the organization is crowdfunding to raise $105,000 for specialized drug testing equipment.

“This will provide a space for people to use that isn’t back alleys, the washrooms at Tim Hortons, public libraries or playgrounds,” said Sunshine House executive director Levi Foy.

Prior to the pandemic, there were about 200 deaths in Manitoba each year from drug poisoning. That number doubled to 407 deaths in 2021.

Street drugs are often cut with other substances, Foy said, so testing will give people a fairly accurate description of what they’re putting into their body and help guide the decisions they make.

“We’re hoping this program will have a larger positive impact and feed into the development of a robust ecosystem of saving people’s lives,” Foy added, noting whatever data the organization gathers can help dictate future measures.

The federal government provided $384,000 through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program, which will cover staff wages, equipment, food and other supplies. Sunshine House footed the bill of the RV, which will be the first mobile overdose prevention site of its kind in Manitoba.

Sunshine House staff have been looking to create a mobile overdose prevention site for approximately six years. There are no real supports other than generic harm reduction supports, Foy said, and the initiative will be able to manage ambulance and 911 calls while providing followup care in a comfortable environment that reflects Sunshine House values.

Sunshine House is a community drop-in and resource centre focusing on harm reduction and social inclusion. It provides programming to fulfill people’s social, community and recreational needs. Those who access services are not expected to be sober.

To donate, visit www.surl.li/clfws

Kelsey James

Kelsey James
Community Journalist

Kelsey James is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from Red River College’s creative communications program in 2018 as a journalism major and holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to be covering the neighbourhoods she still calls “home.”

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