Peer Support Group : BSPSG

Better Shade Peer Support Group (formerly known as Black Sheep Peer Support Group)

new_bspsg

Background History
Black Sheep Peer Support Group

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”Tell me, I will forget

Show me, I may remember

Involve me, and I’ll understand”

– Chinese proverb

In June 2006 some MMT clients those were associated to AHRN as peer educators expressed their interest to set up their own support group. A process of setting up a self help group which belongs to them was explored through peer educators trainings and health education session at AHRN Drop-in-Centre.

The collective efforts by interested clients and AHRN team members made to attain more clarity on scope, nature and structure of first peer led support group including ex/former and current drug users in Northern Shan State.
The session on peer led group, at regular meetings and health education generated lot of interests among MMT clients which subsequently assisted to form a self help group. A series of meetings imitating a consultation process at AHRN provided technical guidance and support to establishment process.
On 29th June 2006 during Monthly Dinner with clients, a final decision was unanimously taken with an official name as “Black Sheep”. The same day in an evening meeting with 15 like-minded clients proposed a structure of peer led group.

What is Black Sheep Group?

Black Sheep is a peer led self help group of individuals who had problems with their personal drug use and now they are trying to find the ways to come out of drug use. The sheep are normally white color but the black one is strange among the sheep for many reasons. The black colored are discriminated from their community. The drug users have similar experience in their lives as they are the mostly discriminated from the family, and community because of their drug use.

The members perceived that this name describe their personality as well as personal experience. And they believe by self help initiatives they can help each other in recovery process and make changes in their lives.

Aims and objectives

  • Providing support to the drug users/former drug users maintaining drug free life-style through group activities reducing drug related stigma and discrimination at family and community level;
  • Demonstrating the fact that drug users can also change their lives provided equal opportunities are ensured and offered to them without judging them;
  • Exploring job opportunities, and sustainable income generation for former drug users;

Key activities

  • Weekly/Monthly meetings close and open meetings;
  • Monthly dinner at AHRN Drop-in centre with clients accessing services on regular basis;
  • Active support to ongoing AHRN project activities such as conducting health education sessions, referrals management;
  • Quarterly Newsletter (with contribution from Black Sheep members and project staff members);
  • Income generation through
    • Periodic Fund Fairs,
    • Supplying drinking water to families and community;
    • Catering service for public/private functions;
    • Contractual agreement to provide clean AHRN DIC/OPO;

AHRN technical support

Technical support from AHRN included

  • A clearly defined MoA between AHRN and Black Sheep Group;
  • Operating Guidelines for various activities;
  • Identification of Board of Directors and defining their roles and responsibilities;
  • Setting up system for members and their specific roles and responsibilities;
  • Black Sheep members’ data base recording their available skills and knowledge and keen interests such as educational and working experiences for vocational training, income generation etc.

Who are involved in the Black Sheep?

The people who regularly visit and access AHRN DIC/OPO and are willing to help others in recovery, drug using problems, family problems and problems with employment.

Black Sheep Group Structure

Black sheep is a group where decisions are taken purely on the basis of open discussion in close meetings. The structure has direct association between Black Sheep Board and Black Sheep members.

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Black Sheep Executive Board Members

Black sheep provides an equal opportunity to all which means board members and members are regardless of race, color, nationality, caste, creed, HIV status and sex are same in spectrum of Black Sheep attempts. The selection of board members will be decided according to the consensus of members with an anonymous voting system on the yearly basis.

Criteria to be board members of Black Sheep Group

  • The member who is
    • the ex/former drug user or current drug user
    • regular in attending the meetings and other activities
    • contactable from the member
    • keen to represent the Black Sheep Group
    • not involved in drug selling
    • ready to abide by rules and regulation

Black Sheep Members

Selection of black sheep members will be decided by the board members with the regardless of race, color, nationality, caste, creed, HIV status and sex.

Disciplinary action

Membership can be taken away, maybe through voting system. Same for Board members (can also have yearly voting there? The selection of board members will be decided according to the consensus of members with the system of anonymous voting on the yearly basis. .

Rules and regulations

Black Sheep Group members are expected to follow:

  • Respect the Black Sheep Group;
  • Respect members and their concerns;
  • Represent Black Sheep in its true sense;
  • Attend periodical meetings and other activities;
  • Perform the assigned role and responsibilities;
  • Do not use Black Sheep in inappropriate actions such as bring drugs in the meetings and other activities;
  • In case of having a problem, communicate openly to the concerned person and solve the problems;
  • Avoid involvement in selling or buying drugs;

Milestone of Black Sheep Peer Support Group

Milestone of Black Sheep Peer Support Group
June, 2006 Idea of drug users group was came in mind with some drug users been attended in Peer Education training
29th June, 2006 General discussion with some interested drug users by former training officer, Ms Mya Thida Aung
July, 2006 Officially named as a Black Sheep Peer Support Group
August-Dec, 2006 Series of discussion with drug users and draft of constitution can be established
2007 Steering board committee selected initiated in some IG activities such as food catering, selling of purified water, cleaning, painting, etc with limited funding
2008 UNDP supported Seed fund under HDI program which can promote more efficiently in IG activities and can support BSPSG members as a social support when they are sick or hospitalized or decent death
2009 UNDP supported second round of Seed Fund under HDI project
Dec, 2009 Two Black Sheep members attended National Drug User Network-Myanmar meeting at Yangon
2010-2013 Black Sheep Hphakant, Bamaw, Waimaw was set up as a clone of BSPSG, Lashio with some drug users. Currently, they are start operating in IG activities
2011-2012 BSPSG 24 hour Care Center, Lashio was set up and operational through 3DF Funding.
2013 BSPSG 24 hour Care Center, Lashio was continued operational through 3MDG Funding and a new BSPSG 24 hour Care Center, Seng Taung is started in August 2013.

Black Sheep Peer Support Group Care Centre

Black Sheep Peer Support Group (BSPSG) is a self-help group that grew out of AHRN services, and provides equal opportunities and services regardless of race, color, nationality, caste, creed, HIV status and sex.

BSPSG members showed a great willingness and build up fexperience in providing care and support for their less fortunate peers.
Drug users are marginalized and discriminated by society and even by their own families, therefore homelessness and severe health challenges are two most common challenges they face.

Under the CBO initiatives supported by 3DFund a 24 hours and 15 bedded Care Centre was granted to Black Sheep Peer Support Group in Lashio since May 2011.

This centre offers 24 hours care to (terminally) ill drug users. The key feature of these services is a strong commitment and care-giving attitude by (former) drug users, some of them on Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT). The overall care approach is based on the ‘Buddy Care System’ to benefit former drug users in their self-esteem and recovery through supporting their peers.

Activities

  • (injecting) drug users were provided with care & support services in Lashio
  • support for receiving ART due to the effective collaboration with key stakeholders such as NAP, INGOs and LNGOS.
  • Arrange a decent death by organizing the funeral service for the passed away clients
  • Job allocation for peers: 10 peers are performing tasks such as care-giving, counseling etc. under technical support from AHRN

Name Changed in 2013 : from Black Sheep Peer Support Group (BSPSG) to Better Shade Peer Support Group (BSPSG)

“Black Sheep Peer Support Group (BSPSG)” has changed its name into “Better Shade Peer Support Group (BSPSG)” (အရိပ္စစ္ဘ၀တူကူညီမွဳအဖြဲ႔) effective from June 2013.

On 21 March 2013 and valid until 31 December 2017, BSPSG finally was approved and officially registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs (Registration number 2073). Nevertheless with 1 big change; the name ‘Black Sheep’ was changed upon request of the concerned authorities for faster processing. As such the new (and officially registered) name is ‘Better Shade Peer Support Group; the initials remain the same and all other requirements and aims remain the same.