There is lots to gain by volunteering with The Hepatitis C Trust. In this blog, Peer Volunteer Sara writes about what it is like to support our staff in the race to eliminate hepatitis C.
I always wanted to volunteer at The Hepatitis C Trust.
I had hepatitis C myself so understand what it is like to find out you have the virus and go through treatment. During my own treatment, the Trust supported me and I liked the way they worked with patients.
After I was cured, I wanted to give back and keep up my recovery. In order to do so, I felt I needed a sense of purpose and something to get up for in the mornings.
I have found the whole experience of volunteering amazing. I’ve had lots of support with my recovery, and learned a lot about myself and what I feel comfortable with. I now realise my potential and I find it so rewarding to help others. My own confidence has really improved too. I now know that I am employable and that I can thrive in a professional setting.
In my volunteer role, I go out to different venues around London including hostels, homeless centers and drug services. I introduce myself to the people there and tell my life story in workshop sessions. In my presentation, I include the Trust’s five key messages about hepatitis C. After doing the talks people are more likely to come forward to be tested as the personal stories help to reduce the stigma. People then ask questions freely and they feel less shame about having the virus or putting themselves at risk.
A year ago I would have never believed that I would have had so much to offer an organisation. Now I know my life is going in a much better direction.
I have also been trained to test people for hepatitis C antibodies. If someone tests positive, we support them with their appointments and give them emotional support.
I am now studying level NVQ 2 Health and Social Care with The Hepatitis C Trust and looking at getting funding for a phlebotomy course. The opportunities the Trust offers its volunteers are really amazing. It sets us up for future employment and builds our CV in a way that might not have been possible on our own.
One of the best things about volunteering at the Trust is giving back and knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives. Through this role I have become aware I am a dependable, organised person and that I’m good at talking to people in a compassionate caring way.
I have not used any class A drugs for over a year and I know that volunteering with the Trust has been a major reason for this.
My future goal is to get a job within the Trust as a paid worker. I hope to gain enough experience to springboard me into working for charities that support homeless people.
A year ago I would have never believed that I would have had so much to offer an organisation. I was street homeless, using drugs and very down on myself. Now I know my life is going in a much better direction. I have a second chance at life where I can rewrite the script.