Won’t supporting active drug users just cause more problems in our community?

A: While all BEAP Ambassadors are volunteers, it is true that they receive honorariums to acknowledge the value, expertise and passion that they bring to meetings and to their efforts throughout the week. We do intend for these stipends to make it easier for them to do the work they are wanting to do. Many Ambassadors have disabilities or injuries—physical (from accidents or injuries) and/or psychological (such as PTSD from traumatic life experiences).

Fit to function

Our BEAP coordinator makes sure that each volunteer is fit to safely contribute, but for some Ambassadors, being fit to function may require physical or psychological discomfort management tools. Because many people who are homeless have had difficult experiences with institutions and authority figures, they may be finding ways to maintain a functional existence without the support of socially sanctioned authorities, like doctors or psychiatrists. Getting involved with BEAP has already helped some of our Ambassadors and their social networks to access new options, such as increased peer support, support from mental health and substance use professionals, training on self-regulation, community capacity building and trauma-informed practice.

But, yes, some of the money provided by BEAP may be used to obtain or take street drugs. You could even say that the BEAP environment is supportive of people doing what they feel they need to do to be as functional as they think they can be, given each person’s unique personal circumstances. 

Bringing beauty and harmony to our community… and stigma reduction

With the drug poisoning crisis that is upon us, where the majority of people who are dying from overdose are doing so because they are hiding their use, and therefore using alone without anyone around to intervene if something goes wrong… we think putting a positive and public face on people who use drugs might help.

In a sense, we are awed by the courage of people who acknowledge their drug use openly. BEAP recognizes that using drugs, especially with today’s often-contaminated street supply, is a very personal matter that no one but the individual can sort out. Along with physical and emotional pain, being homeless often comes with the social pain of being overlooked and even harassed. We have already seen how BEAP alleviates some of this social pain through the collaborative and caring relationships it has created and improved.