A fortnight of celebration in the North West
Events for World Hepatitis Day took place across the country over the end of July.
Our team in Lancashire and South Cumbria took part in a two-week extravaganza, with events happening all across the North West.
Kicking things off in Blackpool, the NHS Operational Delivery Network led on a ‘call to arms’ to help get as many people tested for hepatitis C as possible.
Our staff and volunteers supported the testing drive at drug services and out on the streets of the city. Our team also organised their own testing events at hotels housing refugees and at a food bank.
In all, more than 350 people were tested and 35 cases of hepatitis C were found. These people are now being supported onto treatment.
A memorial garden was built in Skerton in partnership with Lune Rivers Trust and Greggs. Two planter beds were filled with flowers and trees were planted around the outside. Memorial plaques were added in memory of the people who have lost their lives to hepatitis C.
Peer Programme Manager, Asa Jones, said: “It was a brilliant experience to have built something lasting and it’s a place where people can go to just sit and reflect. A big shout out to John Fox for giving us the idea, and all praise should be for our Gaz who organised it all.”
The team also assisted at tree planting events at Accrington and Blackburn hospitals.
WHD photo series in Cornwall
Sarah Baker-Martin, Cornwall Peer Support Lead, organised a photo series entitled ‘We’re not waiting, don’t miss the target’ to mark World Hepatitis Day.
Sarah invited peers, patients and staff from With You Cornwall, St Petrocs, Health For Homeless, Cornwall Council Homeless Navigators and Harbour Housing to take part in this creative project.
Sarah said: “This collaborative piece with all these external agencies emphasises the need for us all to work together and not in isolation.”
Outreach over lunch at HMP Drake Hall
A lunchtime event was held at HMP Drake Hall to mark this year’s World Hepatitis Day and to raise awareness of the work our team carries out at the prison.
HMP Drake Hall is just one of many prisons where we hold awareness sessions to reduce the stigma around hepatitis C and where we help to support residents to start treatment.
An information stall was set up in the dining hall and run over lunch whilst the women queued to collect their canteens.
All three of the prison’s peer volunteers got involved so that the women would know who to speak to about hepatitis C if they later had any questions.
Our team was joined by staff from the healthcare provider Practice Plus who helped us distribute sweets, toothbrushes, wristbands and leaflets.
We spoke to over 300 women in just over 90 minutes – not a bad way to make the most of a lunch break!
UK politicians lend their support to WHD
Political leaders from all four nations of the UK joined with The Hepatitis C Trust in marking this year’s World Hepatitis Day.
A total of 36 politicians shared their messages of support across their social media channels including Will Quince, Minister of State for Health and Secondary Care and Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales.
Will Quince MP said: “We are at the forefront of tackling this serious disease, by swiftly procuring the best treatments and tackling inequalities through targeted screening and will continue to work towards the World Health Organisation’s target of eliminating this virus by 2030.”
New greetings cards from Art on a Postcard
Art on a Postcard (AOAP) has launched a range of greetings cards in partnership with a number of contemporary artists, including Ceal Warnants, Haus of Lucy, Ben Eine, Melissa Scott-Miller, Christopher Gee, Annabel Fairfax, and South London Dan, with new artists being added all the time.
The cards are blank, ready for your message, and perfect for any occasion.
Art on a Postcard’s next auction fundraising for The Hepatitis C Trust will be the annual Winter Auction, hosted via Dreweatts. More information can be found by signing up to the AOAP mailing list or by following their Instagram account.
News from the Infected Blood Inquiry
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other senior ministers were called to give evidence to the Infected Blood Inquiry about the government’s plans around the issue of compensation for people impacted by the infected blood scandal.
At an evidence session in July, Mr Sunak told the Infected Blood Inquiry that his government would not make a decision on compensation payments until after the Inquiry’s final report has been published in the autumn.
Sir Brian Langstaff, the Inquiry Chair, has already recommended that a full compensation scheme to be set up before the end of the year but no detail of the government’s plans were given to the Inquiry by government minsters.
Following the conclusion of proceedings, Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, said:
“More than three months have passed since Sir Brian Langstaff recommended that a compensation scheme for those affected by the contaminated blood scandal be set up and begin work this year. But listening to the evidence from Rishi Sunak and other senior politicians this week, we are no clearer about when this will happen and what the government plans to do next. This lack of clarity is now actively harming a community that has been let down by successive governments for more than 40 years.”
Launch of our YouTube channel
We are delighted to have launched our YouTube channel with stories from some of our peers.
In these powerful videos, Paul and Mo share their stories of diagnosis, treatment and cure.
We are incredibly grateful to them for sharing their experiences and to Kingel Creative Agency who created the videos for us.