Loved ones gather for overdose remembrance

On 31 August people from Leeds who had lost loved ones to drug-related deaths gathered to remember them in the city’s first public memorial event.

The event which took place on International Overdose Awareness Day in Penny Pocket Park, opposite Leeds Minster allowed people to remember people they loved who had died too soon.

Observed on August 31 every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.

Elisha Mosley from Forward Leeds who helped to organise the event said: “We wanted people to have the opportunity to gather together and remember someone they have lost, too often the unfortunate stigma associated with drugs means people feel uncomfortable talking about their loss and grieving properly. This event gave people the opportunity to remember them and get support from others who are in the same situation.

“We’ve also given people the opportunity to write a message on a yellow heart and we’ll be keeping those up in our hubs for the next few weeks as a visible memory of someone who was loved and lost too soon.”

There were 84 deaths from drug poisoning in 2021 in Leeds and across West Yorkshire there were 243 deaths from drug poisoning in 2021, nearly five people every week.

Forward Leeds also shared messages on its social media channels with tips on preventing an overdose and advice around what to do if you suspect someone is having an overdose.