Our dear friend and courageous activist, Alan Joyce, died a mere few weeks ago, and it deeply saddened our entire community. Alan, was known to so many of us in both INPUD and within the UK user’s movement as the chair of NUN, the National Users Network in the UK.
The work he put in back in the days when the UK movement was a mere rag tag collection of angry, clever and dare I say beautiful souls sitting in various living rooms (thanks Mat and Mandy!) and stuffy meeting rooms and lastly, political offices around the UK, was huge. He was always so thoughtful, always so enlightened – and such a calming influence on so many intense meetings, man, are we going to miss him.
Alan’s health had been a bug bear for him for years. It prevented him from doing a lot of travelling for many of the last 10 or more years, yet his online presence was always powerfully felt. Wow, could he write an email! Ok so they were long, and, yeah sometimes we moaned about the length (our e-list rules state 500 words max to prevent cerebral overload) -but boy were they smart! Alan always had a new take on something, he always knew how to write powerfully, and one was always left feeling bereft of words; Alan had somehow managed to cover the entire subject!
Alan was gentle, funny, headstrong, and I think he was a bit of a ladies man just quietly, although he was a true blue feminist of the male persuasion, and an amazing dad and family man. He always spoke about his children and family – and he sure had a wonderful one. A mum who was an incredibly innovative teacher of many years and a dad who was a trade union boss for decades as well. He had the genetics of an true activist, no doubt about it.
Mat and I went to visit him in the hospital in his last couple of weeks, and had the pleasure to meet his mum and dad and his son. I must mention his wonderful sister Kathy whom I didn’t personally meet but she kept, through Mat and others, us all fully keyed up on Alan’s situation as it progressed. We are all eternally grateful for that. It meant we were able to visit him, and take all the heartfelt hellos and big loves, from INPUD’s members, to him in hospital. I’ll always remember how Alan’s mum, picked up the lovely document of printed out pictures and emails from dozens of user activists from all around the world, (thoughtfully printed out by Mat) which were all saying just how much Alan meant to all of us and how important he was to the movement. She waved the document high in the air and said “I want to show these doctors, I want all of them to see this, I want them to see how important Alan was, that he was a somebody, that people all over the world loved and valued him for his work -because they don’t understand in here”. She went on to say how most of the doctor’s and nurses didn’t understand Alan or his illness which sometimes made him confused, or got him very upset (we know how easy it is to get upset in hospital when you’ve a drug history) -and that, having all those messages there was a vilification for his family – proof that he was more than their debilitating and frustrating judgements and prejudices.
Alan, you will be deeply missed, far and wide – by so many, so many more than even you will ever know. We will always remember you darling.
I just want to add a few words from Eliot our Exec Dir made in his opening INPUD speech at the conference, about a dear friend and activist who passed away just days before the conference took off. Take it away Eliot’….
“I would like to dedicate my opening remarks to a member of our community who made a massive contribution to harm reduction and user activism in both the UK and internationally, was a core member of INPUD, one of my mentors, and my introduction to the movement, namely Alan Joyce who tragically passed this week as a result of liver complications. Alan was an enormous inspiration to all who knew him and his wit and intelligence will be much missed.”
In Love, light, solidarity and peace from all your comrades in arms.