Pieces to pathways (P2P) is a peer-led initiative offering substance use support programs for LGBTTQQ2SIA youth ages 16 to 29 years old in Toronto. Ruthie Titus (R.T.) is a client support worker at P2P. They spoke with CJRU about the ways P2P is reimaging services and staying connected. This includes co-creating biweekly online groups with clients, hosting their “What the Fuck is” series, creating zines and more.
R.T. explains that accessing resources can be a frustrating experience for many people. Then there is an added layer of frustration when a client’s gender and sexuality are denied. P2P aims to provide harm reduction services in a way that affirms their clients’ identities.
“Historically there haven’t been as many folks who have lived experience and who can relate to the lives of our clients and their day to day experiences…There’s also frustrations of having to teach humans who are providing services to you. That’s if you’re lucky to get someone who is well intentioned but just doesn’t know anything about the communities you’re part of or the things that are part of your identity, ” R.T. explains.
Before the pandemic, P2P was busy hosting drop-ins at their Parkdale location, distributing LGBTQ+ harm reduction kits at local parties and community hubs and much more. Having paused their in-person programming, P2P has been adapting their services. Since March 2020 they’ve offered a number of supports for their clients. This has ranged from coordinating grocery hamper distributions in Parkdale to delivering one-on-one support for clients. They have also created virtual spaces for clients to connect. Their online initiatives have also widened their client base. Now they’re also engaging with folks across Canada and The U.S. RT says fostering a sense of community virtually has been a challenge but they’re excited by the new faces that are accessing P2P.
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As part of their biweekly online groups on Zoom, they began the “What the Fuck is” series. The aim is to redefine and reframe words and topics from which the community could be alienated. P2P kicked off the series in December with a three-part conversation on resilience. In early February they discussed the topic of identifying and coping with triggers. Most recently, they explored harm reduction as radical Black love in honour of Black History Month. R.T. explains that programming can take the shape of a workshop and or a facilitated conversation. No matter the format, the virtual space is always co-created with P2P clients. The topics and conversations change, but the spirit of the series remains the same.
“It’s about taking these ideas that can support our wellness, overall growth and maintaining of livelihoods… and breaking them down. Actually understanding how they can live in our lives, how they feel authentic to us, and how to engage with them in ways that don’t feel cheesy,” R.T. says.
They add that clients are welcome to use the tools presented throughout their “What the Fuck is” series, but there are no expectations on what happens after their Zoom calls. Recognizing that virtual spaces are not accessible to all, P2P is also developing alternative avenues for these conversations. R.T. says they’re considering zines that can document some of their online conversations and takeaways.
To hear more about Pieces to Pathways, listen to the interview below with R.T.