Ancella Voets worked at Mainline from 2004 to 2011. Now she returns as manager Knowledge, Learning and Partnerships.
Actually, Ancella had vowed never to return to an old employer. “But for Mainline, I am happy to make an exception,” she says smiling on the phone. “Mainline is independent, contrarian. The only club in the Netherlands that stands up for drug users. But even outside the Netherlands, harm reduction is often only a part of HIV control and then your resources are limited for drug users anyway.
I like Mainline’s ‘no bullshit mentality’. Mainline does not play political games, but always goes for the end result.Ancella Voets
Back to basics
In 2004, Ancella started as an outreach worker at Mainline and later worked as a programme leader internationally. In 2011, she left Mainline for a job with Doctors of the World in Tanzania. She then set up the first harm reduction programme in Mozambique for Doctors Without Borders. In 2021, she started working as a self-employed harm reduction expert and carried out several jobs for Mainline. “When Mainline called, I thought: there is a new freelance job, but they asked me to come and work as a team leader,” she says.
“I am looking forward to working as a team leader. I will sometimes have to act from the interest as a team leader instead of purely going for the content. As a colleague, are you taking good care of yourself? Can perhaps a partner organisation do something better instead of Mainline? I also bring with me a large international network. People know how to find me and therefore so does Mainline.”
Whether she had always seen herself working in the harm reduction field? “Funnily enough, I used to want to work with refugees. I happened to roll into the harm reduction world through a job for Trimbos. I was doing research on drug consumption rooms and interviewing people who use drugs. Gradually, I became more and more passionate about the subject. There is so much more to it. People who use drugs are criminalised, marginalised. For me, it’s about people and how they are excluded. To do something against that, that is my motivation.”