A new initiative from Vodafone is helping The Hepatitis C Trust staff and volunteers stay in touch with patients who are experiencing homelessness. Kieron Allen, our peer programme manager for Merseyside & Cheshire shares the difference the SIM cards are making.
In Merseyside and Cheshire, one of the biggest problems we have had is maintaining contact with patients with complex daily routines; especially those who are experiencing homelessness.
We try to get them to a clinic as soon as we get an antibody positive test and the healthcare professionals we work alongside are able to confirm whether they still have the virus and complete liver health checks.
These patients can then be offered a full course of treatment within a few hours. This is a fantastic turnaround, and our peer volunteers are then tasked with keeping in touch with those on treatment to ensure compliance and do welfare checks to see how things are going.
The problems arise when the patients are unable to keep in touch or we are unable to locate them for a number of reasons; including them not having access to a phone.
We have now received a number of free SIM cards thanks to Vodafone’s charities.connected initiative. They have given us SIM cards with 40GB data a month, plus free calls and texts, for six months which we can pass on to those we support.
The provision of these SIM cards means that we will now be able to offer people a way for us to call them throughout their course of treatment to check in and make sure that they are supported to make it to appointments and complete treatment.
For those without a phone to use the SIM card, our Operational Delivery Network (ODN) has agreed to purchase a number of phones which we will give to the people concerned. A generous offer indeed and everyone wins.
Not only will we be able to check in with patients, access to a phone will also give patients a way of calling friends, family, and other services such as housing.
We are incredibly grateful to Vodafone for their support to help us reach everyone at risk of hepatitis C and make sure we eliminate hepatitis C in this country by 2030.
Find out more about Vodafone’s chariries.connected initiative on their website.