Humankind launches new minimum standards for needle exchanges and harm reduction services

Ellie Lambert

A woman working as a health care provider.

This week we issued a new set of standards for needle and syringe provision across all the organisation’s substance misuse facilities.

The minimum standards will ensure full and equitable reach of comprehensive harm reduction services to all who use substances. The standards are part of a number of harm reduction initiatives that support Humankind’s commitment to improving interactions with service users and helping to save lives.

Speaking about the new guidelines, Stacey Smith, Director of Nursing at Humankind, said: “I’m proud to say that our services already operate at a high standard, but we want to ensure that our needle and syringe provision are among the best in the sector.

“Sadly since the start of COVID we have seen a decline in the number of people accessing our needle and syringe programmes and we want to change this. These services play a crucial role in reducing drug related deaths and reinfection rates for Hepatitis C, providing the life-saving drug naloxone, and providing a route into treatment services. They also provide our staff and volunteers with the opportunity to connect people with housing, primary health and other specialist services”, Smith added.

The new standards are intended to improve equitable access to needle and syringe provision and reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people who use substances.

The new guidelines have been welcomed by others working in the sector. “I am delighted to see drive to improve the care we offer to some of our most vulnerable members of society”, said Professor Graham Foster, Professor of Hepatology at Queen Mary University of London and National Clinical Chair for the Hepatitis C Delivery Networks.

“Preventing avoidable harms by high quality needle exchange is one of the most effective ways of improving health and reducing costs and this initiative will help in our goals to build back better after the pandemic”, Foster added.

The needle and syringe provision standards can be downloaded here.

A woman working as a health care provider.

Humankind maintains matrix Standard accreditation across North East services

Ellie Lambert

Humankind has been praised for the services it provides to marginalised people in the North East.

Following a recent review of the information, advice and guidance that Humankind offers across their Work and Skills services, the charity has retained its matrix Standard accreditation in recognition of its continued high quality of work providing information, advice and guidance to support individuals to make informed choices and access opportunities.

The matrix Standard is the international benchmark for organisations that provide advice and support services that help people in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals.

Humankind offers a wide range of work and skills services across the region including, National Careers Service North East, Reaching Out Across Durham (ROAD), Step Forward Tees Valley (SFTV), Moving On Tyne and Wear and Action Towards Inclusion (ATI) in North Yorkshire. Together these services have provided support to over 4500 people since Humankind’s previous matrix assessment in 2016.

Speaking about the accreditation, Clare Lynn, Director of Services at Humankind, said: “Our Work and Skills services have held the matrix Accreditation Quality Standard since 2006, and while our services and the way we deliver them may have changed, our commitment to maintaining this industry wide standard has only become stronger.

We know effective information, advice and guidance support can make a huge impact on the decisions and choices individuals make, so it’s essential and hugely rewarding to know that we at Humankind do this to the highest standard.

Demonstrating compliance with the Matrix Standard is a significant piece of work and can only be met by delivering against all elements on a daily basis – something our team members do with huge enthusiasm and skill. I’d like to thank all team members across our IAG services for delivering a fantastic assessment report.”

Roger Chapman, Head of the matrix Service for The Growth Company, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Humankind and I would like to congratulate the team on their success. We believe that at the heart of high-quality advice and support services are strong leadership, excellent service and a focus on continuous improvement, all underpinned by effective use of the resources available.

The matrix Standard is designed to benchmark organisations against best practice in these areas. With their accreditation success, Humankind is working to provide the best possible support to their clients.”

Humankind’s long-established employment, training and education programmes partner with agencies such as Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Education Funding Agency (EFA) and a range of prime providers. A number of services are funded via the Building Better Opportunities National Lottery and ESF programme.

With the support of this funding and partners, the charity delivers specialist support for people with a range of support needs and complexities, including long term unemployment, offending, drug and alcohol use and physical and mental health issues who may face barriers to entering education, training or employment.

The report highlighted that the Humankind team are “passionate about ensuring they meet the individual needs of participants,” and that “they go over and beyond to support them achieve their goals and help them to progress.”

As part of the accreditation process, several participants were interviewed and shared powerful testimonials about how the programme has helped to transform their lives.

One participant said: “I’ve never had so much time spent on me – I was flabbergasted at the amount of support and time I’ve had. They help to build you back up as a person, not just target into employment like other places – they are interested in my circumstances.”

For more information about the matrix Standard, please visit:

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