Hacks for SSP Community Relations

This section has 2 hacks in it.

“Some people think they are in community, but they are only in proximity. True community requires commitment and openness. It is a willingness to extend yourself to encounter and know the other.” 

David Spangler

More than any other factor, community is what makes good harm reduction organizations great. Community can be defined as a social unit with shared norms, values, customs, or identity. In terms of harm reduction organizations, community can be divided into two primary spheres: internal and external.

The internal community of a harm reduction organization consists of all the people who work at, work for, donate to, or use the services. The external community consists of others in the larger home community of the SSP – especially those working with the communities served by the SSP. The external community also includes colleagues in state and national harm reduction, drug policy reform, or other related professional communities.

Internal Community

Your internal community is the heart, soul, and backbone of your organization and includes staff, volunteers, program participants, board members, donors, and, often, community partners. Building internal community means building relationships based on your shared values as a part of a harm reduction organization.

External Community

Your external community is made up of the larger spheres of influence your organization is a part of. Your external community includes your local home community (city, county, and/or health jurisdiction, and state), the other social service organizations in your home community, various professional communities (including medicine, public and behavioral health, housing etc.), and the larger national harm reduction, drug policy reform, sex worker rights, and other related movements.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource

External Resources

Collected from around the web
There are a number of external resources that contributed to the development of Harm Reduction Hacks. Here are a selection relating to this section:


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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