UISCE - The Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education
A vision for people who use drugs
UISCE is the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education and has been a representative voice of people who use drugs in Ireland since 1992.
The organisation's vision is "a world where people who use drugs are treated with equality and respect by all people and have a voice where decisions impacting their lives are made".
Using information to inform decisions
UISCE undertakes peer-led outreach to engage with the community to identify trends and issues from a broad range of people who use drugs. UISCE believes that the opinion of one person does not represent the whole community of people who use drugs. To be an accurate representative voice of the community, UISCE engages with a wide demographic of people who use drugs during their weekly outreach outings.
This information is used to inform decisions that impact the lives of people who use drugs to ensure their voice is heard in all fora where decisions that impact their lives are made and included in the development of policy and programs
Starting as a service user group in the Ana Liffey and later becoming an independent organisation, the founding coordinator was Tommy Larkin. Tommy was extremely influential in shaping UISCE and was commissioned by the local drugs task force on a consultancy basis to represent the issues of people who used drugs or were receiving drugs services in the area.
The organisation currently works under three pillars:
- Outreach - through a peer led volunteer outreach programme to maintain constant engagement with a diverse population of people who use drugs.
- Community Development - to create relationships with services that support people who use drugs and ensure all day to day rights are being met.
- Policy Development - representing people who use drugs at all forums where decisions are made that affect their rights and future
UISCE also publishes the Brass Munkie magazine, with a distribution of 4,000 hard copies per annum. This supports communication and the ability to provide information on harm reduction as well as health warnings and initiatives to a large group of people who use drugs.
New strategic plan
Under the guidance of the UISCE board and recently appointed coordinator, Hannah Rodrigues, the organisation has published a new strategic plan.
The UISCE 2017 Strategic Plan identifies three strategic goals to work towards in 2017:
- Build capacity to be an effective independent voice, an organisation led by people who use drugs
- Advocate for improved services for people who use drugs
- Develop and establish an organisational structure for UISCE for stability and growth
Supporting national strategy
Ireland’s new national drug and alcohol strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025 places centrality on drug user representation across all pillars. UISCE make this requirement actual by engagement through unique peer led outreach and capacity building for people who use drugs.
Under the new strategy, it is intended to establish a National Oversight Committee to give leadership and direction to support the implementation of the strategy. The Committee will meet on a quarterly basis and be sponsored by the Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy.
The Committee will have a cross-sector membership from the statutory, community and voluntary sector, as well as clinical and academic expertise.
Indicative Membership of the National Oversight Committee includes UISCE and they are a listed partner for several strategic aims included in the new strategy.
UISCE is currently the representative voice of people who use drugs for the National Drug Strategy Steering Group, Safe Injecting Facility Expert Group and Naloxone Quality Advisory Group and Methadone Prescribing Protocol Committee. The organisation also represents the people who use drugs on Regional and Local Drug and Alcohol Taskforces.