DURBAN - The Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre in Durban has been featured in a documentary called Good Hood Stories that will premier at the Better Cities Film Festival on Thursday, October 7, in Michigan in the US.
Based in Greyville, the centre provides methadone, which is an opioid substitute that helps alleviate the side effects associated with heroin use, to about 500 people with drug use problems. The centre also offers a range of clinical and harm reduction services.
The Better Cities Film Festival collects, curates and presents the best films on the theme of making better cities, towns, and neighbourhoods.The festival was originally founded by Joshua Paget in 2013 as the New Urbanism Film Festival.
In a statement today, the centre said the festival was launched with a vision to move from university classrooms or city council chambers on to the silver screen and into the streets, engaging the broader community in the vital work of placemaking and neighbourhood revitalisation.
Professor Monique Marks, from Urban Future Spaces at Durban University of Technology, said the Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre was an example of how proactive support from the local government could reinforce the work done by non-state organisations to relieve some of the challenges faced by people who used drugs and were homeless with a positive impact that had wide ranging benefits for the whole city.
“Non state organisations such as Advanced Access and Delivery, SANPUD, TB HIV Care who have the know-how on how to provide clinical and psychosocial services for people who have problems with drug use, are filling in the gaps where the city has not made resources available for these services.
“The fact that the City of eThekwini has provided us with a building to use for free as well as security for the safety of our workers and beneficiaries, has meant growth and sustainability of the centre,” she said.
The Bellhaven Harm Reduction Centre is a low-threshold facility which has no barriers for people who have problems with drug use to access the services that they need to address this.
The centre said the focus was on positive change, working without judgement or discrimination.
The site has become more than just a place for services for people with problems with drug use, it has become “a placemaking project”, according to Marks.
The surrounding spaces and places had found new positive use by the community, others used them for playing and praying, said the centre, adding that the centre provided clean water for drinking, and some of the beneficiaries used this to create a garden.
“Now that the space has been returned to its original use as a community centre, we want to use it to break down the false barriers between people who use drugs and those who do not. We want more people to use it and hopefully facilitate communication between the people who use drugs and those who do not see themselves as drug users,” said Marks.