Improving neighbourhood safety though peer support1 min readReading Time: < 1 minute
Do you know the WINS program? For the past five years, it’s been working to dispose of improperly discarded needles and support people living with substance use in Waterloo Region.
WINS stands for “Working to Improve Neighbourhood Safety.” It’s a peer-based needle recovery and harm reduction outreach program. How does it work? WINS hires and trains people who have lived and living experience with substance use to safely dispose of used needles and glass pipes. The workers also connect with community members and make referrals to local support organizations.
The program is operated by Sanguen Health Centre, in partnership with Region of Waterloo Public Health and local municipalities. WINS was piloted in the City of Cambridge from 2018 to 2019, and expanded to the City of Waterloo and City of Kitchener in 2021.
The program is making a difference! Between January 1 and June 30, 2023, the WINS peer workers made 146 referrals to community support organizations and interacted 3,969 times with community members. In the same timeframe, they have safely disposed of 15,929 needles and 4,489 glass pipes.
For more information on the WINS program and safe needle disposal, visit regionofwaterloo.ca/SafeSharpsDisposal.
This infographic shows some of the program’s impacts and explains what to do if you find a needle or harm reduction supplies: