Home > Strategic plan for UISCE, 2022–2025.

Dillon, Lucy (2022) Strategic plan for UISCE, 2022–2025. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 83, Winter 2022, p. 25.

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UISCE, the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education for people who use drugs (PWUD), published its new strategy in July 2022 entitled Peer partnership for change: UISCE’s strategy to build inclusion and participation of people who use drugs 2022–2025.1


UISCE was established in the 1990s as a service user group and is now an independent organisation that works with and for PWUD. It is funded by the North Inner City Drugs and Alcohol Task Force and the Health Service Executive. In his foreword to the report, UISCE chairperson, Padraig Ryan, notes that the organisation seeks to empower PWUD to ‘advocate for themselves and to ensure that their civil liberties and human rights are realised’ (p. 2). In line with this, UISCE’s vision is ‘that PWUD are treated equally in society, with dignity and respect, and that they participate fully and have their voices in all areas where decisions affecting their lives are made’ (p. 5). The relationship between poverty, inequality, and drug use is well understood by UISCE. It sees part of its role as closing the gap between those most affected by drug use (PWUD, their families, and communities) and the polices that affect them and policymakers.

UISCE’s strategy

The strategic objectives of UISCE have evolved since its inception in the 1990s, taking account of changes such as the drug preferences, demographics, and overall drug consumption of PWUD. As part of the process of developing the new strategy, UISCE consulted with PWUD to explore their views of UISCE and any issues of concern. Some examples of the findings are:

  • People valued UISCE’s services, including linking people with services, naloxone training, and harm reduction.
  • PWUD want to be part of the decision-making processes that impact their lives; for example, in the development of care plans and policies on drugs.
  • The risk of drug-related deaths for PWUD and their friends was of particular concern.
  • he provision of safe injecting facilities is a priority.
  • PWUD reported being discriminated against and having to go through the criminal justice system for health-related issues.
  • PWUD spoke about being affected by social and health inequalities, which puts them in a position with less power due to economic, social, historical, and political conditions in society. 

Strategic goals and actions

The strategy is structured around seven goals, each of which has a set of actions. It is beyond the scope of this article to include all actions, but two are selected for each goal for illustrative purposes.

Goal 1: To build a resilient organisation which promotes and develops a high level of participation, inclusion, and meaningful engagement with PWUD.

  • To develop creative tools to engage PWUD in workshops/sessions that allow them to identify the issues and develop collective responses through their lived or living experience which values their role as experts.
  • To advocate for, enable, and support greater participation of people with lived experience in all relevant matters and at all relevant spaces.

Goal 2: To continue to strengthen engagement with PWUD and relevant organisations locally, regionally, and nationally.

  • To establish a peer-led National Drugs Network which will create a platform for local and regional task forces and other relevant organisations to promote the participation of PWUD and ensure stronger representation nationally.
  • To continue to identify and engage with PWUD that experience intersectional discrimination (e.g. Travelling community, LGBTQ+ community, sex workers, homeless population, prison population, etc.).

Goal 3: To enhance and further develop our communications to challenge discrimination and stigmatisation and to foster a greater understanding of the rights of PWUD.

  • To continue to challenge negative stereotypes that impact PWUD.
  • To support PWUD to develop campaigns to highlight issues of concern and to challenge stereotypes that limit their full participation in society.

Goal 4: To maintain and further develop strong relationships with relevant services to ensure effective collaboration that seeks to address the inequalities experienced by PWUD.

  • To continue to support services to improve participation of PWD in decision-making processes.
  • To continue to work collectively with community partners identified in the national drugs strategy.

Goal 5: To promote a health-led approach in partnership with PWUD and relevant stakeholders.

  • To continue to work with identified partner organisations to advocate for the delivery of the national drugs strategy commitment to establish a pilot supervised injecting facility.
  • To continue to facilitate naloxone training programmes and to advocate for peer-led overdose response initiatives.

Goal 6: To continue to work with PWUD to promote and support the decriminalisation of drug use and the people who use them.

  • To advocate for the meaningful participation of the community of PWUD in all relevant discussions regarding decriminalisation.
  • To develop submissions and recommendations on issues related to the decriminalisation of PWUD and wider drug policy.

Goal 7: To develop the organisation of UISCE to ensure that the systems, policies, and structures in place are effective and capable of delivering on this strategic plan.

  • To work with our funders to ensure that UISCE is appropriately resourced to deliver initiatives arising from this strategy.
  • To carry out a review of all UISCE policies to ensure that the organisation has clear governance arrangements in place and to ensure compliance with all relevant legislation.

1  UISCE (2022) Peer partnership for change: UISCE’s strategy to build inclusion and participation of people who use drugs 2022–2025. Dublin: UISCE. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/36558/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 83, Winter 2022
November 2022
Page Range
p. 25
Health Research Board
Issue 83, Winter 2022

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