Manchester Events Calendar

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This guide lists events at a glance, showing what’s on each month. See the highlights of What’s On for Manchester, featuring the best of things to do in Manchester – Live Music and Gigs, Family Events, Art & Culture, Food & Drink and much more. Manchester fundraisers and charity events.

Important This Event Calendar is not maintained on a daily basis and some events may have changed dates or are no longer happening. Please double-check the event websites for the most up-to-date information.

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Psychedelics and PTSD : On the Frontline

15 March @ 6:15 pm - 9:40 pm

£5 – £15

A proud collaboration between Drug Science, OEV Partners and the University of Manchester. Open to members of the public and students from any university.

Students require a valid student ID.

What to expect

There is a growing body of evidence pointing to the benefits of psychedelic therapy for those who suffer the debilitating effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But for those affected there are currently no legal routes to accessing psychedelic treatment in the UK and the range of people impacted spreads across society, including veterans and first responders, victims of childhood and/or sexual trauma and many other groups.

In this event hosted by Drugscience and OEV Partners, we’ll learn about the science behind why psychedelics represent the most significant innovation in mental health treatment for decades, as well as hearing compelling and moving testimony from lived experience advocates who have journeyed abroad to seek out life changing and life saving therapy. We’ll also find out how accumulated job stress and trauma may be driving negative aspects of police culture and police behaviour and hear how this intertwines and is exacerbated by ‘The War on Drugs’, serving to seriously damage relations with communities. Could psychedelics play an important role in preventing this and if so, how do we get there.


18:15 – Arrive & network (Drug Science stall and art exhibition open)

19:00 – Talks/panels

20:30 – Short break

20:40 – Talks/panels

21:30 – Close

Speaker bios

Our speaker line-up is a unique mix of psychedelic researchers, academics, industry experts and people with lived experience of PTSD and working in emergency/frontline services.

Craig Rands, combat veteran

We have the pleasure of being joined by Craig, a combat veteran who travelled with not-for-profit organisation Heroic Hearts Project UK last year to drink Ayahuasca in Peru. His story of transformation is truly inspiring and has never been heard before in this way, so we’re honoured that he will be sharing it with us.

Rayyan Zafar, Drug Science

Rayyan has previously completed undergraduate studies in BSc Biomedical Sciences at Newcastle University and an MSc in Clinical Neuropsychiatry from Kings College London, IOPPN. He is currently undertaking his Ph.D. at Imperial College after being awarded the Medical Research Council Doctoral Training 3.5 year fellowship (MRC DTP). As a member of the Centre for Psychedelic Research and Neuropsychopharmacology group, he is working with Prof David Nutt and Dr David Erritzoe complete a series of multimodal neuroimaging investigations in addicted populations and to investigate the role of psychedelics in treating these populations.

Prof Jo Neill, University of Manchester

Jo Neill is Professor of Psychopharmacology at the University of Manchester. She is Chair of the Medical Psychedelics Working Group at Drug Science, a Trustee for Heroic Hearts UK, scientific advisor for the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, Beckley Psytech, Albert Labs, and Octarine Bio. Jo is an advisory board member of the International Therapeutic Psilocybin Rescheduling Initiative. She is co-founder of b-neuro, a University based Contract Research Organisation developing new treatments for mental illness through animal models and past President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (President 2016-2018). She served on the Research Excellence Framework panel for Unit of Assessment 3 (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy) in 2014. Jo is working with Policy at Manchester and Drug Science to educate the public about the urgent need for drug law reform and suspension of Schedule 1 restrictions to enable research into the medicinal properties of currently illegal drugs.

Lieutenant Sarko Gergerian, LEAP US / Winthrop Police Department, Massachusetts

Lieutenant Sarko Gergerian began his career in 2010 as a patrol officer with Winthrop Police Department. In 2016, he received the Outstanding Service and Contribution award; in 2019, Lieutenant Gergerian was subsequently awarded the Department of Mental Health & Law Enforcement Award. Lt. Gergerian is a founding member of the Community and Law Enforcement Assisted Recovery Program (CLEAR). CLEAR is a network of community partners, theWinthrop Police Department, and the Winthrop Health Department that ensures individuals seeking support for substance use disorders or mental health are connected to community-based service providers. Lieutenant Sarko Gergerian serves as a police peer support officer, community outreach officer, and health & fitness officer. In this role he manages a shift of officers,reviews policies and procedures related to mental health, and supports a multidisciplinary team response to mental health response. Sarko Gergerian is certified in adult and youth mental health first aid,recovery coaching, motivational interviewing, individual and group critical incident stress management (CISM), and critical incident training (CIT). He holds a BA in philosophy from Northeastern University and a MS in mental health counseling and psychological services from Salem State University.

Paul Caswell, Anyone’s Child

Paul is a member of Anyone’s Child : An international network of families whose lives have been wrecked by current drug laws and are now campaigning to change them. Paul is Manchester born and bred and can speak from lived experience on the terrible impacts of drug prohibition on the lives of ordinary people. As we examine the benefits of Psychedelics for PTSD for those who have served, we also need to include the voices of those on the other side of a front line and understand how their trauma may also be alleviated, along with reducing reliance on damaging coping mechanisms. Whilst we wait for effective mental health treatments to become available, focus should be on what we can do now to reduce harm for those living with the impacts of trauma and consider the challenges of bringing psychedelic therapies to diverse and hard to reach communities.

Jennifer Schmidt-Petersen, LEAP UK

Jennifer is a Chartered Psychologist and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She has a BSc (combined Hons) in Psychology with Criminology and Master’s Degrees in both Forensic Psychology and Investigative Psychology. She has previously served in the Metropolitan Police Service as a Police Constable. Having successfully recovered from PTSD over a decade ago by taking Ayahuasca in Peru, Jenn is a member of LEAP UK and a passionate advocate for evidence-based drug policy and for providing legal routes to accessing psychedelic treatment in the UK

Art exhibition

Exhibition by Dr Lisa Williams, Department of Criminology, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester: “Behind Closed Doors: Recreational drug storage strategies under prohibitionist drug policies”.

This exhibition presents images of how recreational drug takers respond to prohibitionist drug policy through the strategies they use for storing drugs in the home. The data was collected as part of a research project with people living in England and Wales, aged between 28 and 58. The images and selected interview extracts illustrate the range of substances (including cannabis, magic mushrooms, ecstasy pills, MDMA powder, amphetamines, cocaine powder, ketamine, GHB, DMT, etc.) and drugs paraphernalia kept at home, and how drugs are stored in a variety of locations and containers.

Student Society Network

This event is part of the Drug Science Student Society Network initiative to collaborate with university societies to create events about drug science and policy across the UK and even further afield. The Drug Science Student Society Network (SSN) is an international network of university student societies relating to drug policy, science and research, all of which are aligned with Drug Science’s mission. We provide education for students around evidence-based drug policy and drug science, equipping them with the tools they need to influence policy makers, governing bodies and thought leaders. Read more about the SSN.


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