SSDP UK boardmember Katherine Bavage reports back from a visit to Poland to meet with other youth and student drug law reform activists.
I'm writing this in the offices of the Polish Drug Policy Network in Warsaw, Poland. Me and Levent Akbulut, both members of SSDP UK's national executive board have been here since Tuesday morning meeting with our European counterparts.
I first met Jan Stola, Bjarke Jørgensen and Luca Stefenelli at the first European Youth and Student Drug Policy Reform Conference, held in Manchester last year by SSDP UK. At the time I was impressed with the depth of knowledge and activist organisation already present in youth groups across Europe, and as we catch up nearly a year later its clear that progress has continued.
Studencka Inicjatywa Narkopolitiyki - or SIN, as my lack of Polish speaking ability prefers! - have been doing some exciting work. They've recently held a well attended activist training session in Warsaw, and are looking to work to deliver harm reduction advice during the European Football Championship as part of the 'Safer Games' campaign many organisations are involved in.
Meanwhile, Bjarke is working on developing a youth advocacy organisation in Denmark. Based in Copenhagen the intention is to build on existing meetings with danish street lawyers and activists to raise the profile of drug law reform issues in the public policy sphere - this week they've launched their website and are looking to get the word out there and get supporters on board.
Finally, Luca is based in the University of Trento and has worked to set up Dipendenza Alternativa in the area. Just this week they are too launching a website, and are really keen to raise public awareness in Italy of the problems caused by prohibition to the Italian people - including severe prison overcrowding.
It's been a fascinating few days of learning about how other organisations across Europe are striving in their different ways to achieve the same things as SSDP UK. Myself and Lev will report back to the UK board and I hope continue to learn from and support our European counterparts. Its a potentially very exciting idea to look at trying to achieve out aims on a European scale, and I am hopeful that our members will have a chance to meet and discuss the issues with European delegates at our conference in April.
- If you would like to find out more about SSDP's annual conference in london in April 2012, please visit the facebook event or take a look at the call for papers
- If you are interested in finding out more about other European groups and their work please email Katherine at Katherine.bavage@SSDP.org.uk
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