HIT Hot Topics 2023
In 2016, Simon answered his calling and joined the harm reduction field. Having grown up around substance use, this was a real opportunity to use his skills to make a positive difference to the lives and health of people who use drugs. As Learning Lead at Mainline Foundation, Simon develops capacity strengthening programmes targeted at harm reduction practitioners who work directly with people who use drugs.
Ailish is a transgender woman from Ireland and living in Berlin where she is working as the coordinator of the Women and Harm Reduction International Network, as well as volunteering as a peer worker with the SONAR Safer Nightlife Project. She has a BA in Politics, International Relations, and Economics from University College Dublin where she founded a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, which remains active at the university. This began her work in drug policy advocacy and harm reduction and she has since worked as the Executive Director of Youth RISE before her current posi with WHRIN.
Aura Roig Forteza is a social anthropologist and has a Master’s Degree in Criminology and Sociology of the Penal System. Currently, she is working on her PhD in Medical anthropology. She is the Founder Director of Metzineres, first non-governmental cooperativa dedicated to develop Sheltered Environments for women and diverse gender people who use drugs, surviving violence and multiple situations of vulnerability.
Now an independent researcher and consultant, Beccy’s personal experience with illicit drug use led her to recognise the crucial need for harm reduction in her teenage years. Despite existing needle and syringe programs, the alarming surge in overdose deaths during the 1990s drove home the fact that more action was required.
Natalie Broughton came into the harm reduction field around 5 years ago, whilst studying on the Public Health (Addictions) MSc course at Liverpool John Moores University. Since January 2023, she has been working as a practitioner at Matrix, the young people’s substance use service in South Tyneside. Natalie is passionate about education and harm reduction, and values being able to have pragmatic and compassionate conversations with young people and their families/carers about drugs.
Stuart Haste has dedicated over three decades to the field of health and substance use services across the UK, holding various roles from a front-line drug worker to a senior practitioner and consultant. Currently, he serves as the Service Manager for the Children and Young People’s Drug Service.
Joelle Puccio is a registered nurse who has worked in Perinatal and Neonatal Intensive Care since 2004. They worked for 7 years as the Director of Women’s Services for the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, a peer run syringe services program in Seattle, WA, and served on the Board of Directors for 4 years.
Identified in her early teens as a ‘prolific offender’ Anna has a long history of lived experience within the criminal justice system, and both negative and positive experiences of harm reduction and drug treatment services. After her last prison sentence in 2001, Anna gained a degree in criminology at Northumbria University. She was asked by the NTA to represent women’s issues on the National Service User Advisory Group and was an expert by experience for the NTA on the Hidden Harm Agenda and the IDTS program where she delivered core IDTS training to prison healthcare – often in prisons, she had previously been housed within. She has also worked at the regional and national level for key treatment providers.
Founding director of UNJUST C.I.C. a not-for-profit organisation established in 2021 to address discrimination, particularly that of a racial nature, in the culture, practices and policies of Policing and the Criminal Legal System. Last year, UNJUST and Awate Suliman instructed Liberty and Doughty Street Chambers, as counsel, to challenge the Metropolitan Police use of the Gangs Matrix. The litigation was successful, with the Metropolitan Police settling the case and admitting to breaching article 8 Human Rights Act.
Joe spent the first 25 years of his career working in NHS public health roles focussing on blood borne viruses and sexual health in Brighton, London and Glasgow. He was seconded to the World Health Organisation’s Global Hepatitis Team via the Scottish Government from 2014-2015 where he wrote the “Manual for the Development and Assessment of National Viral Hepatitis Plans” and co-organised the first World Hepatitis Summit.