Annette Sharkey has written innumerable grant applications.
But, until recently, the executive director of the Social Planning Council of North Okanagan had never written a grant to save a life.
Vernon will be one of 16 communities awarded $100,000 to set up community action teams in regards to the opioid crisis.
The cash is provided by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, Community Action Initiative and the Overdose Emergency Response Centre.
“Our goal is to stop people from dying in our community,” said Sharkey in explaining to Vernon council Monday that the funds will be used to reduce the number of overdose deaths in Vernon.
Through May 31, Interior Health reports there have been 10 illicit drug deaths in Vernon. There were 22 such deaths in 2017.
The Social Planning Council is the host agency for the funding while Partners in Action is the umbrella committee.
“One of the first actions will be to develop a communications plan and include business and community leaders as we know that there are concerns,” said Sharkey.
Funding will also be used to include community mapping and conduct peer and cultural audits.
“This is to better understand how our current programs and services are working, and what changes need to be made to better serve people and, ultimately, save more lives,” said Sharkey.
Partners in Action will move forward with other action teams as appropriate. As an example, Sharkey said an action team will target the mostly male, ‘hidden’ opioid users.
“This could be someone you work with, play soccer or baseball with or see regularly at the gym,” she said. “We plan to target bars, restaurants, gyms, workplaces and airports to provide education and supports to this target population.”
The project will also include the development of a harm reduction strategy of which overdose prevention sites are only one part. Treatment and recovery will also be included.