St. Thomas’s ongoing needle issue is being tackled from the ground up by a group of citizens with a common goal.
The Namelesss is a group organized by Leticia Mizon that is dedicated to working in the community to remove used needles from the streets of St. Thomas. It started out as information sessions held at the St. Thomas Public Library and then evolved into community members meeting at a designated location on Talbot street on Tuesdays at 8am. Members walk the streets for a couple hours looking for and disposing of any needles they find. Leticia’s goal is to “get the community involved in the pickup of needles and not just react out of fear and lash out at the people using them.”
Nancy Lawrence, a health promoter with Southwestern Public Health, who also comes out on Tuesdays, says, “We also saw a need from the public health perspective to work with the community to address this issue. And we fully support Leticia’s approach, which is compassion and non-judgement, and that’s how we will be successful as a community.”
“They’re doing great work in the community. It was needed.” –Joe Preston
The Health Unit is also making sure the group is educated before they go out so they can do it safely. Anyone who is interested in helping out can contact Nancy and she will take the time to give them one-on-one training on how to properly dispose of needles, which takes about five minutes.
Joe Preston, St. Thomas’s incoming mayor, was also out volunteering his time to help look for needles when we went out. He had this to say about The Nameless: “Way to go, they’re doing great work in the community. It was needed. Most of the work is done by citizens that care. It just makes it better when the community comes together like this.”
If you see needles on city property, you can call the city’s customer service line, 519-631-1680, and they will send out properly trained people to deal with them. If you want to learn how to dispose of them yourself you can contact the Southwestern Public Health Unit in St. Thomas, 519-631-9900. If you would like to volunteer with The Nameless you can find them on their Facebook page.
In photo: Joe Preston, Leticia Mizon, Nancy Lawrence (Grayden Laing | Establish Media)
We are in the process of interviewing members of the community about this issue in an effort to shed light on it and help look for a positive solution. If you would like to connect with us to share how this issue has affected you or have an idea for how we can work on this as a community, please let us know.