Meet Natalia Durango
The opportunities and limitations of harm reduction work are explored by Natalia in this video.
The Region of Peel is really big and we are a really small team. So we try our best to connect with clients
across the region. Actually, we are really well connected in Mississauga and Brampton. We have an
amazing group of lived experience outreach workers who definitely are our main link to connect with
places where people is. Our main mandate is serve people where they are. But the thing is in this region,
poverty is really invisible and finding our most vulnerable clients is really difficult.
In Caledon, basically, we finally got in touch with someone with lived experience who belongs to the
communities we serve. Sometimes it’s difficult to get someone who can open the door because, as I
said, things are not happening in a geographical area that you can easily recognize and go to one place
or another one. Unless you are connected with partners who serve the same communities we serve, we
can connect with certain communities, but there is a high population, especially of people who is dealing
with addictions, homelessness, and mental health, who are basically going to drug houses that are really
Sometimes people is just one opportunity left to change their lives. They just need one opportunity. And
that opportunity sometimes is having a simple place to go during the night. Having a regular meal. So we
want to offer that. But we are not a housing program, right? We are the harm reduction one, but we
know that to provide a certain level of stability is absolutely important to make the other part work.
What is negative, but I will say that is something more like a weakness, something to improve, is the
high frustration we face when we are trying to support a client and the other resources involved in the
society are not working properly. It’s very frustrating to see how everybody is talking nowadays about
the housing crisis in Ontario, but just this became part of the ‘coffee time’ where people are talking but
there is nothing to.
And those who are having the power to make it happening are doing nothing. Well, I don’t see the result
so I’m asking, why there is nothing really done?