Brad Jones is a local resident that has found a calling to collect the discarded needles in St. Thomas.
I talked to Mr. Jones just under a year ago after Sept 18, 2018 when his journey began. It all started behind the north west corner of the Elgin County Railway Museum when he found discarded needles and posted a video asking if anyone else knew how to safely pick up needles.
“Piercing the problem at it’s heart, one needle at a time” -Brad Jones.
A women from the community saw his post and went out to pick them up and then messaged Mr. Jones to say that she had picked them up. That led Mr. Jones to teach himself, with the help of Nancy Lawrence of the Southwestern Public Health unit at time, on how to retrieve and dispose of used needles properly.
From there he worked with a community effort spearheaded by Leticia Mizon and Nancy Lawrence, to go out on needle sweeps with other members of the community such as Mayor Joe Preston, councillor Joan Rymal, Tim Hedden, and others throughout the fall months.
When the group of community members took a break from needle collection during the winter Brad formed “Your Neighbourhood Needle Network” to continue to go out and collect the discarded needles. Since then he has continued his work in the community and Mayor Joe Preston and Councillor Joan Rymal continue to support his efforts.
****Out with Joe, Joan and Mr. Jones today****
Posted by Your Neighbourhood Needle Network on Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Mr. Jones says that since about October he has personally collected about a thousand needles.
Mr. Jones’ harm reduction kits consist of packages with black plastic tongs, a used syringe disposal container, and plastic gloves. He also has larger yellow sharps disposal containers. He picks them up from the Southwestern Public Health or CCHC downtown and then will deliver these kits to any business or residents that would like them.
About two months ago Mr. Jones’ was having a hard time himself, he is on ODSP, and at that time the St. Thomas Helping Hands and others individuals in the community helped him out. He is very grateful to be in a community that he can help while also being supported. One day he is hoping that needle pickup and drug paraphernalia clean up could be his vocation. He’s not the only one. Nikki Mizon started a petition on Change.org to the urge the Mayor’s office of St. Thomas to consider hiring him to look after needle clean up in St. Thomas.
Mr. Jones will be out at the Iron Horse Festival this weekend, so you may see him there. He also has many videos on his Facebook page that you can follow to see what he’s up to.
If you see needles that you would like picked up, or would like a kit, you can give Brad a call at 519.670.3875, message him on Facebook, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.