What is Peer Navigation and Why is it Important?
Peer navigation is all about one-on-one support, where people who've been through similar life experiences guide and support others in their journey. A peer navigator is someone with lived experience having experienced substance use disorder within their own lives. In the context of harm reduction, our peer navigators play a crucial role in educating, supporting, and empowering those at risk or affected by substance use disorder, HIV/AIDS, and other barriers. They share firsthand knowledge and have expertise to connect individuals to various resources and support.
How Do Peers Support our Community?
Peers in our program do important work for our community. The role involves developing plans to find at-risk individuals, perform outreach activities to engage communities, and creating personalized interventions to help aid clients in accessing the services they need. They reach out to individuals who engage in high risk behaviors including those who may have suffered an overdose, offering harm reduction supplies and resources. Peer navigators are advocates; providing education, support, and help to bridge the gap to treatment and recovery options. Respect and empathy in these interactions is crucial to stopping stigma and providing connection based on care and compassion.
Outreach activities are constantly changing to meet people where they are. You can find us in the community at:
- Walking outreach
- Tabling events
- Curbside care
- Collaboration with community partners
Our current schedule is as follows and is weather permitting:
- Tuesdays: 11 am - 3 pm at Behind the Rath Building, 158 Pearl St., Buffalo, NY 14202
- Thursdays: 12 pm – 3 pm 101 at St. John Kanty Church Parking Lot, 101 Swinburne, Buffalo, NY 14212
- Thursdays: 1 pm – 3 pm on Niagara St.
- Fridays: 1 pm – 3 pm on Niagara St
- Fridays: 1 pm - 3 pm on Grant/Ferry St. on the West Side of Buffalo
How Do I Connect with a Peer for Support?
Our peer navigators are here to help individuals facing challenges by developing trusting relationships and offering support. Peers are understanding and respectful. They have a working knowledge of community services, including substance use treatment, housing, and mental health resources. Peers work with service providers to link clients to medical care and social support options. They use their skills to create client-centered plans by meeting people where they are with the help they need. To connect with an Erie County peer navigator, please contact the Office of Harm Reduction by phone (716-858-7695 Ext 4) or email (email@example.com).
Visit us weekly at Curbside Care where we provide free health services, supplies and support in different locations around the county.
What Other Support is Available?
We have a variety of other resources available to get you connected with the treatment you need:
- 24 hour Addiction Hotline 716-831-7007 - Get immediate help, education, information, referrals and assistance with linking to addiction treatment services (Hotline Flyer - Please post to help inform others)
- 24 Hour Crisis Hotline: Call 716-834-3131
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- WNY Opioid Addiction Treatment 24/7 Virtual Care: Call 716-463-6222
- BestSelf Recovery Community Events: Upcoming Events - Friends of Recovery
- Erie Path App