I’ve been out and about of late, roaming the grey streets in connection with work and other pursuits. Public space is always an interesting place to let one’s thoughts wander as the peculiarity and genius of humanity manifests itself at its sharpest, most refined state. The street is where all of society comes together; the sick, the sickeningly rich, the decadent, the materialistic, the assured, the insecure…all prance and dance on together on the canvas of public space, a heartening cocktail of colour under the dull skies and fretful winds.
I stumbled upon an intriguing site last Thursday on my way home from work; a man riding a bike with a transparent plastic box filled with used syringes. I was instantly taken aback by the blood-stained contents and proceeded to inquire where they were from and what they were doing in a box attached to the front of a bike. The man on the bike, one Allan Hylbech promptly informed me that they were but a fraction of the 12’000 syringes gathered on the streets of Vesterbro every week.
Swopbox is an initiative that aims to help drug addicts safely dispose of their used syringes by offering 2 DKK per every syringe deposited in plastic containers like the one I saw attached to the bike. Ridding the streets of used syringes and their hazardous needles is the key philosophy behind the initiative run by Allan Hylbech, Michael Schmidt and Tania Henneberg. The dispensation of clean syringe kits via a 24 hour machine is another dimension to the project, which offers anonymous access 24 hours a day to drug users.
Clean syringe kits reduce the risks of HIV and other diseases spreading as a result of shared needles as does the collection of used syringes. Cleaner streets and therein more content residents as well as lower healthcare expenses related to the treatment of HIV patients are also goals of the Swopbox initiative.
Check out Swopbox’s Facebook page for more details: