our community programmes
We work in communities across the UK to educate, test and treat people at risk of hepatitis C (HCV). Find out more about our programmes of work below.
What is our service model for our programmes of work?
The Hepatitis C Trust is a peer-led organisation.
For more than 20 years, we have developed our model of service to meaningfully involve peers in the design, delivery and implementation of hepatitis C education, testing and treatment programmes.
We achieve this by:
- Reaching people
We meet people at-risk of hepatitis C through many channels:
- Mobile outreach and peer-led testing events
- Peer-led awareness and education workshops
- Referral from NHS, drug services and prison healthcare
- Linking patients with a peer
Each person who tests positive for hepatitis C is connected with a peer who will build a long-term support relationship. Peers may be paid members of staff or volunteers.
- Providing advocacy and education
We help patients understand more about hepatitis C as well as their rights and treatment options. We support them to access services when needed. We work with NHS colleagues to ensure services better meet the needs of patients.
- Supporting the patient’s journey
Peers provide bespoke one-to-one support including appointment reminders, travel support or reimbursement, and a personal connection throughout the treatment journey. Peers are also able to provide holistic support as required, such as help accessing benefits or dealing with other health issues.
our programmes of work
Find out more about how we work in the community below:
Our Follow Me programme offers a buddying service to help support people who have been diagnosed with hepatitis C through treatment.
We train and support peer volunteers to provide tailored support for people through testing, treatment and care.
In services where we have implemented this programme, the offer of peer support is made after every positive diagnosis of hepatitis C.
Peers take the time to listen to the needs of each patient and are able to adapt the support they offer to suit the patient’s needs and make sure that they complete their treatment. This could include anything from simply listening to a patient’s worries, to helping to provide assistance in finding accommodation or putting them in touch with services that can help with their other needs.
As part of our Follow Me programme, we train our peers to conduct hepatitis C workshops to help provide education to people most at risk of the virus. Find out more about these workshops on our Workshops page.
We first started using testing vans in 2011 to go out to meet people where they are and offer information, testing and referral. This model is now used by the NHS, who we often support at their testing events.
We work mainly with people at greater risk due to drug use, including homeless people, people who have been in prison, and people from countries where hepatitis C is more common than in the UK.
Finger prick testing is offered to anyone who wants it. Its simplicity and speed means more people are willing to take the test. Those testing positive are referred to local services.
Before any outreach or testing event, we work with local services to brief staff, publicise the visit, and ensure that the right facilities and onward referral steps are in place. We often attend events put on by other charities or organisations to raise awareness and help educate people about hepatitis C.
We have around 200 peer volunteers working with us at any one time.
Peer volunteers are supported to deliver workshops in community and prison settings, sharing their personal experiences to help educate others about hepatitis C.
Our volunteers also provide emotional and practical support to people at risk of hepatitis C.
Support varies, but often includes hepatitis C testing, helping patients attend clinical appointments and supporting them to speak to healthcare professionals.
Every volunteer receives comprehensive training including a three-day residential training course and induction, regular line management meetings and ongoing support, and access to a wide range of training.
So far, 34 of our volunteers have since enrolled in further education. 65% of people who’ve volunteered with us have moved on to paid employment.
Cirrhosis is the main risk factor for liver cancer (also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC).
Detecting and treating liver cancer at an early stage means that treatment is more effective.
Many of the people at risk of liver cancer in the UK don’t have enough access to NHS services. This might be because they’re homeless, because they find getting to appointments difficult, or because of poor experience of health services in the past.
In order to reach them, our peers work alongside our partners in the NHS to conduct mobile liver scans (FibroScans). The results are fed back to the clinical team and, if needed, steps are taken to make sure the patient gets the care they need.
Our peers help to educate anyone found to have cirrhosis about the importance of attending follow up appointments. They also support any patients who require ongoing liver surveillance to attend their appointments – whether diagnosed previously or by us – and they signpost people who need extra support to the services that can provide it.