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Helping a community get their SHST together.

The Problem to Solve

After the Timmins local health unit saw an 82% increase in opioid-related deaths between 2019 and 2020, they petitioned for government funding behind additional harm reduction and community rehabilitation resources. The first of these would be “Safe Health Site Timmins”: a supervised consumption site to provide dedicated supervision, sterile supplies, and a crucial access point for health care and addiction treatment services. But many citizens had the misperception that the SHST would just enable more drug use and make the problem in the community worse.

Our Solution

Pulling on heartstrings wouldn’t work with the Timmins audience, and “saving lives” had become a white noise message with the pandemic still looming large. Instead, we needed to catch residents off guard in an unexpected way to bypass the knee-jerk, negative reactions and get them rethinking their preconceived notions about supervised consumption sites. So, we played off the SHST acronym, drawing on well-known “sh*t” idioms to capture attention, and drive them to our website where we would bust myths with the facts on all the things a safe consumption site could do to help the community at large. The ads were plastered all over Timmins - from billboards and TSA’s around the city to social media, and even the iconic McIntyre headframe. 

The Results

In the first four months, our awareness campaign helped drive over 4,000 visits to the centre, reduced emergency calls by 67%, and decreased the city death rate by 50%, all with zero community protests or complaints.

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