Supporting Needless Needle’s fight

Fiona Onasanya column
Fiona Onasanya column

We all want Peterborough to be a better place to live. This is why I’m working on reducing the amount of fly tipping by paying for bulky waste collections throughout the city.

My hope is that this initiative will encourage businesses to help make Peterborough that bit tidier.

However, I’ve become concerned about another form of waste that isn’t bulky, but could be eminently more dangerous: I’m referring to the amount of used needles people are finding on the streets of Peterborough. There is something altogether disquieting about finding used needles in the places that Peterborough’s children play or pass through on their way to school. We would like to think of our neighbourhoods as areas that nurture the young, and are safe, orderly and well managed. The sight of the paraphernalia associated with someone’s desperate addiction shatters that hope.

Curious or unaware children may be tempted to pick one up. As those using the needles may have diseases ranging from Hepatitis to HIV/AIDS, it is dangerous as well. I had the privilege of meeting the “Needless Needle” team this past weekend; they are a group of mothers who have put together a petition to get the council to address the problem and set up safe disposal facilities. In the absence of a comprehensive answer to this problem, they are working hard to get the council to clean up needles when they are found and inform them as to who is responsible for emptying the bins in which they can be disposed. These bins have apparently been full to bursting for weeks. Peterborough is lucky to have the “Needless Needle” group; we are not alone in having this problem, but to my knowledge, these mothers are unique in having grappled with the issue so effectively. I also hope that Peterborough can be the place where we begin a conversation about why it is that this problem is so pervasive and what the root causes are.

A March 1st alert from the SUN Network suggested people in our area are dying of heroin overdoses. How did these individuals get to a stage where taking narcotics became an option? We have seen how the listlessness and ennui engendered by inequality and lacking opportunity has led to antisocial behaviour, binge drinking and petty crime. Abandoning needles haphazardly where conceivably children could find them is indicative of a total abandonment of consideration and care for others. There is something deeply wrong, and there is no single answer for it. Having said this, the Needless Needle group gives me hope: in the face of adversity, they have come together and are determined to improve matters. I will do what I can to support them as their MP.