Working on site
An often underestimated form of working together is the informal coming together of people, whose main focus is to commit themselves for each other and the needs of group members. The focal point of the work of these more internally oriented groups is forms of exchanging experiences and direct practical help in overcoming daily problems. However, many regional groups do not just orient their work towards the needs of group members, but also commit themselves to work for others. These groups, which also work outwardly, make an effort, for example, to explain things, for example through extensive public work as well as the preparation and execution of informational events and further training, to those affected,, relatives and helpers. The aim here is not just to confront the possible consequences of illegal drug consumption preventively.
At the same time, preventive clarification will work against prejudices and myths, against ignorance and irrational fears, so that the discrimination and exclusion of drug users is dissolved and offers of help are sought and accepted by them earlier on and more specifically.
Through the political work and work in specialist bodies and working groups, these groups also make an effort to do justice to their claim. A few JES groups have succeeded in creating a more stable and more reliable institutional framework for their work. In addition to the commitment directed inwardly and outwardly, this enables competent and reliable consultancy and assistance to people seeking advice and help. These groups fill loopholes in the assistance systems with their offers, gather experiences of those affected, try out new forms of overcoming problems and create a basis for the modernisation of the traditional network of social care through their immediate, practical work.
These JES groups are more likely to work in institutional structures in the form of promoted initiatives and projects and can depend on the commitment of paid staff members. These organisational forms stem from the experience that extensive JES work can only be done continuously, on time and at a qualitatively high level if the support for this commitment is secured materially. These forms of organising work do not contradict the aim of our association in any way, i.e. to develop JES’ work primarily into a motivated and institutionalised offer of services in the area of employment. The more intensely institutionalised groups are also distinguished by the fact that their achievements are mainly based on the voluntary commitment of group members, that self-help and external help – even if with a different emphasis in each case- are connected to each other and the permanent employees in particular work as disseminators and organisers for drug users.
Helping people help themselves
The individual JES groups have developed into a social network in their regions where the helping, supporting and stabilising role of relations between people bears fruit. People who have gathered experiences with relatives, friends or professional helpers and have experienced a similar fate and suffer from stigmatisation, exclusion and discrimination come together here. Therefore, the group as a social community is important to JES, where the individual feels understood, safe and well. Here, contacts can be built up, an exchange of experiences developed and new social contacts can be maintained and cultivated as well as social shelter and safety be found. Here, care, recognition and solidarity and thus the often missing social support when overcoming life’s tasks and crises can be found, which are not found in other social contexts. Life in the regional JES groups also provides important initiatives to work on ourselves and to realise personal values. This includes self-experience, the development of self-respect and feelings of self-esteem, the experience of pleasure in life and emancipation. Group life offers each and every individual space to find new social behavioural patterns, to practise them and to become stable. Finally, the necessity and the advantage of a community of equals where work on immediate, “customised” and thus suitable aids is carried out can be experienced in the JES groups.