The organisation Recovering Justice, which aims to “End stigma & marginalisation through policy change. Advocate for drug policy reform that focuses on health approaches to problematic substance misuse”, is hosting two panel events on Friday and Saturday this weekend, where the war on drugs, its aftermath, and what it means for women in recovery are being discussed.

Women’s Voices: Speak Out For Peace

We invite women in recovery and family members to join us in discussing how we can create a campaign for peace. Evidence shows that current drug policy is one of the biggest barriers to getting into and maintaining Recovery. Criminalisation of people who use drugs is stigmatising, costly and ineffective. We believe there is a solution. Join us for an informal evening of discussion and shared experience

Friday 12th August, 7pm to 9pm

Road to Recovery Trust, 45-53 George Street, Newcastle, NE4 7JN

Free tickets here.

How do we help create peace after the war on drugs?

Panel Presentation and questions from the audience on the title subject.

Saturday 13th August, 3pm to 4pm

Saltwell Park, Revive Festival Marquee, Gateshead, NE9 5AX

Free tickets here.

Both events will feature a brilliant panel of guests comprising:

Kirstie Douse, head of Legal Services at Release, the national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law. Release believe in a just and fair society where drug policies should reduce the harms associated with drugs, and where those who use drugs are treated based on principles of human rights, dignity and equality.

Fiona Gilbertson, co-founder of Recovering Justice. She has over 25 years of experience of advocacy in HIV and sex worker rights, mainly in policy development and lobbying. She believes that the fundamental way to tackle stigma and discrimination is through policy change. People need rights not concessions. She was awarded a Winston Churchill award in 2015 to look at diversion schemes from criminal justice to health and is a community advisor for the Chief constable of County Durham.

Suzanne Sharkey, spokesperson for LEAP UK – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. LEAP is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Suzanne was a Police Officer for 5 years as an undercover drugs buyer. She is also in long term recovery from problematic substance misuse.

Jane Slater, head of operations at Transform, where she has worked since 2007. She now leads the Anyone’s Child: Families for Safer Drug Control campaign, a network of families whose lives have been wrecked by the current approach to drugs and are now campaigning for the legal control and regulation of drugs.

Words by Fiona Gilbertson. Tweets @fionajg70

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