· Virtual press conference on June 9 at 12 pm PDT with Fireside Project co-founders and Affinity Peer Volunteers
The psychedelic field is growing, and so is Fireside Project’s compassionate team, but the growth comes with challenges. Despite the expansion, there remains a significant lack of diversity and community representation in the psychedelic therapy, research, peer support, and harm reduction community.
As we continue to see increasing worldwide interest in psychedelics for medical, therapeutic, and recreational purposes, Fireside Project knows that inclusive peer support for people processing and integrating psychedelic experiences is more important than ever.
That’s why, after listening to feedback from Psychedelic Peer Support Line users, Fireside Project introduced its Affinity Peer Volunteer Program last February, with the goal of providing diverse representation in psychedelic peer support and harm reduction through a network of trained volunteers from BIPOC, transgender, and military veteran communities. The program is one part of Fireside Project’s broader Equity Initiative, which is expanding the organization’s capacity to provide culturally responsive services for people seeking help processing psychedelic experiences.
After receiving over 120 applications for these positions, Fireside Project is now announcing that it has selected and trained an initial cohort of 44 Affinity Peer Volunteers to assist callers processing and integrating any past psychedelic experience. 30 members of the cohort identify as Black, Indigenous, or People Of Color (BIPOC); seven identify as transgender; and seven are military veterans, with some overlap between the respective groups. Fireside Project plans to expand volunteer recruitment and services into more affinity groups as funding allows.
“Since our inception, Fireside Project has had the intention to offer meaningful support to members of marginalized communities seeking psychedelic peer support,” says Fireside Project’s co-founder and director of strategy, Hanifa Nayo Washington. “As the psychedelic renaissance accelerates, safety and harm reduction practices must expand to meet the needs of all people. By being the first to provide access to Affinity Peer Volunteers, Fireside Project has the potential to interrupt the growth of the gaps in care in the psychedelic space. Our Affinity Peer Volunteers have themselves navigated the barriers distinct to their respective identity groups, which we believe will allow for greater trust and empathy with callers—and where there is trust, there is greater potential for awareness, self reflection, and making sense of psychedelic experiences.”
As the Affinity Peer Volunteer Program unfolds, Fireside Project will explore the effectiveness of culturally attuned psychedelic peer support through a series of studies that will be conducted in partnership with Dr. Monnica T. Williams (University of Ottawa), Dr. Chris Stauffer (Portland VA and Oregon Health & Science University) and Dr. Jae Sevelius (University of California, San Francisco). These studies will explore whether speaking to peers sharing aspects of their identity (BIPOC, transgender, military veteran) increases the likelihood people will use our service, reduces harms, and improves healing outcomes.
Fireside Project’s Affinity Peer Volunteers will be available to callers seeking psychedelic integration support starting June 23. The launch of the service will be accompanied by a live webinar and Q&A session, introducing the Affinity Peer Volunteer cohort to the general public.
A virtual press conference will be held on June 9 at 12 pm PT to share the progress of Fireside Project’s Affinity cohort, and answer questions from media about its Equity Initiative and Affinity Program, with statements from:
- Hanifa Nayo Washington, Fireside Project Co-Founder & Director of Strategy
- Josh White, Fireside Project Founder & Executive Director
- Lisa Bass, Affinity Peer Volunteer (BIPOC)
- Tristan Angieri, Affinity Peer Volunteer (transgender)
- Crystal Salas, RN, Affinity Peer Volunteer (U.S. Army veteran)
Media interested in attending the webinar or virtual press conference, or in speaking directly with Fireside Project leadership and Affinity Peer Volunteers, are invited to contact:
About Fireside Project
Fireside Project is a non-profit organization that operates the Psychedelic Peer Support Line, providing free, confidential support by mobile app, phone, and text message to people who are in the midst of psychedelic experiences or processing past psychedelic experiences, whether those experiences occurred yesterday or 25 years ago. Fireside Project has received national media attention in such publications as Rolling Stone, Forbes, Esquire, Mashable, and more. Fireside Project can be reached by phone and text at 62-FIRESIDE (623-473-7433) and through its mobile app, which is now available on iPhone and Android.
To speak with an Affinity Peer Volunteer who identifies as veteran, BIPOC, and/or transgender, callers will need to request an “affinity peer” or an “affinity peer volunteer” when calling or texting 62-FIRESIDE. The pilot of this service will be available on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM PT.