More than a year ago, to identify how many women were not accessing services and the reasons why, SANPUD conducted an informal needs assessment through focus groups with women you use drugs. The aim was to identify what services they need and whether women-focused groups would be beneficial. TB HIV Care adopted the findings from the groups, which recommended the approach, and formed women-specific groups in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
The response to the formation of these groups for women who use drugs has been overwhelming. In Cape Town, the groups started in February 2019 and take place every Friday at the Drop-in Centre. The group has grown tremendously in size. It began with a handful of women and has grown between 15-20 members each week.
The support that women who use drugs provide for each other within these groups has been incredible to see. Group material is relevant to their context, with a variety of topics such as goal setting, building self-esteem, gender-based violence, abusive relationships, childcare and appreciation of self, substance use and therapeutic work. The team plan on introducing topics around skills development, to aid integration into the workforce.
These groups have been influential among women who use drugs as they provide them with a support network where they can process experiences with women who have had shared experiences.
Family reunification has been a primary motivating factor in their desire to make changes related to substance use.
One participant shared the impact that the group has made on her life. “Parts of my life have dramatically improved. This group is 100% a safe space for me to express issues I have been holding onto for many years. “