Peer Volunteers are saving lives across Newport
The first pilot of its kind in Wales sees Naloxone, a lifesaving antidote which can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, being delivered to those at risk by people with lived experience of addiction.
The GDAS’s peer volunteers have potentially saved nearly 40 lives in Newport thanks to a pilot scheme set to be rolled out across other parts of Wales. The team is training others on how to use Naloxone. So far, it has been used 37 times.
Leighton is one of those volunteers and now patrols the streets with the lifesaving drug. Thanks to his dedication to the cause he has already saved five lives. The use of training from those recovering from addiction is a vital part of the pilot and his experience means he understands what people who use drugs are going through.
“I started volunteering to try and help my own recovery,” he said.
“I know the importance of surrounding myself with other people in recovery. This pilot has given me something to do which is helping my community.”
What is Naloxone and how does it work?
Naloxone is a medication which temporarily blocks the effects of opiate drugs such as Heroin or Methadone. It can be given by injection to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, providing more time for an ambulance to be called and treatment to be administered.
The eight-week pilot was funded by the Welsh Government with Gwent Alcohol and Drug Service (GDAS) training people in the community on how to use the medication. The pilot’s launch saw Gwent Police and Naloxone Man join up with the peers to co-produce this truly collaborative initiative.
Project leader Elwyn Thomas, Assertive Outreach worker with GDAS, says the pilot has exceeded expectations.
He said: “Our target was to deliver 60 lifesaving Naloxone into the community by peers to train people who can train others and to deliver this intervention. We’ve seen quadruple what we should’ve delivered, we’ve delivered 237 and in that pilot 37 replenishment kits were given. That means 37 kits were potentially used. 37 kits to reverse opiate overdose. We’ve now extended to other counties around Newport.”
For Kim, another volunteer, rolling it out across Wales is vitally important. She said: “People with addictions are human, they’re people in pain.”
Like Leighton, her volunteer work has resulted in lives saved in her community but before her recovery she had already used the medication.
“I’ve probably saved 6 or 7 lives,” she said. “A few of the first times I was on drugs myself so it becomes normal to you, which is sad.”
Watch the complete ITV footage here.