Here they are! You may have seen them around town this past month, dressed in blue, carrying packs and water, working morning, noon and night. But who are they and what are they doing?
The PEER Ambassadors Network is a new, proactive, preventative and innovative approach to the opioid overdose crisis in Kamloops, British Columbia.
This energetic team of 14 is made up of people who have lived experiences of addiction, homelessness, poverty and mental health challenges. They are walking the streets of Kamloops six days per week, 12 hours per day seeking out people who are at risk of overdosing and other related addiction challenges.
These ambassadors have completed weeks of training in many areas including peer support, first aid, conflict resolution, bylaws orientation, and mental health first aid. For all of them, this is their first paid work experience in quite awhile.
The blue team works in pairs across the North Shore. They call for medical help when needed, provide lived experience social contact and support for street entrenched community members, and pick up discarded needles and garbage from our riverfronts, parks, lanes, and alleys.
They offer snacks, water, and harm reduction supplies and make referrals to other service providers.
The goal of the PAN is to bring compassion, support, and education about addiction to our community. And because they all have lived experience, they are able to connect on a deeper level with street entrenched members of our society!
If you see the PAN Ambassadors working around town, feel free to wave to show your support!
This is a pilot project that will be ending August 31, 2019. A further extension of the program will be based on its effectiveness. The project is operated by the Lived Experience Community Life and Peer Skills Program, a not for profit society, and assisted by many helping hands in the community, as listed below.
(Special thanks to Alex McGilvery, the Community Action Team, CMHA (AMY & Christa), ASK (Reanna, Karly & Corey), Jeremy Heighton, Carl DeSantis & CAP, Tammy Blundell, IH (Tara Mochizuki), ICS (, Nicole, Chloe & Team), Erik Nelson and RCMP Community Services North Shore.
If you would like to support the PEER Ambassador program with a donation, please etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the PAN: 250-574-1714 or 250-879-0465