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Counselling and support service

Following the support and assistance measures announced by the Government in January 2011, we are facilitating and co-ordinating a dedicated confidential counselling and support service for those who contracted hepatitis C through contaminated NHS supplied blood and blood products (and their dependents).

The number to access this service is 0808 802 2244 (Freephone). Please leave a message with your name and telephone number and we will call you back the same day or the next day (save for weekends, the Christmas holiday period and Bank Holidays).

Your call will be returned by either Samantha May or Colin Sim, both of whom are patients themselves, and who between them have over 13 years of experience of working on The Hepatitis C Trust’s existing helpline, as well as previous experience of working in a variety of support, advice and information giving roles. They have also received training in solution focused interventions (BRIEF), Loss and Bereavement (Cruse) as well as general support and information provision skills (Helplines Association).

A brief description of how the “Hepatitis C Counselling and Support Service” works and how those eligible can access it is listed below.

THE INITIAL ENQUIRY

When we return your call, we will need to know your address so we can send you a consent form. This will give enable us to get your written consent for the Skipton Fund to simply confirm with us that you are registered with them and we will provide a stamped addressed envelope for you to return it to us for this purpose. If you are a dependent who is not eligible for the Skipton Fund, we may need to ask the Caxton Foundation, set up to make discretionary payments to Skipton Fund recipients but also to some dependents to agree your eligibility.

Otherwise any information you tell us is strictly confidential.

Neither the Skipton Fund and/or the Caxton Foundation will share any further information with us, nor will we with them.

THE HEPATITIS C COUNSELLING AND SUPPORT HELPLINE

We can provide you with any information you may require about any aspect of hepatitis C and can also advise you of the range of existing services at The Hepatitis C Trust that we can offer that may be of interest or as additional sources of support to you, for example:

• Our existing confidential helpline service, a very useful resource for anyone affected by or interested in hepatitis C – we answer queries from patients, their partners, friends, nurses, GPs, employers and a range of other professionals. If we don’t have the answer to your question directly, we can find out for you as we have contact with a range of professionals and other services. As patients ourselves we are well placed to provide on-going peer support where required – for example, helping patients to come to terms with their diagnosis, supporting them through treatment or simply by providing a safe and confidential space to offload or discuss their concerns.

• Our benefits adviser, Elaine McElveen can provide advice on what benefits or grants you may be entitled to, assist with filling out forms or advise you on appeals. Elaine is a patient herself and has worked on our existing helpline for over 5 years.

• Our advocacy service – for example if you have been turned down for treatment, have experienced discrimination at work or have received poor treatment by medical staff etc.

• Our free, confidential, bi-annual newsletter, sent by email or hard copy depending on your preference, which is currently sent to 4600 (June 2014) patients and professionals around the country. It features updates on new treatments and research into hepatitis C, personal stories, lifestyle guidance, patient contributions, as well as news and views on hepatitis C. We have also recently introduced a separate e-newsletter for regular bulletins that comes out six times a year.

• Our free, confidential Wellness Courses, which are regularly held at our London office but are also at different locations around the UK depending on demand. The aim of these courses is to help provide information and support to encourage you to make lifestyle changes that may help to slow down the progression of liver damage and assist in reducing symptoms. A healthy delicious lunch and refreshments are also provided.

• Our wide range of support groups, run from our London office, or signposting to other helpful services that may be available in your area.

COUNSELLING

For patients (or their dependents) who would like the opportunity to discuss their feelings and explore the ways that being affected by hepatitis C has impacted on their lives, referrals to accredited (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists – BACP ) counsellors are also available, in addition to, or separately from, the above services.

If you have been recommended or perhaps know of a counsellor you would like to access, following confirmation and verification of the counsellor’s accreditation and insurance details, we can facilitate payment for you to access up to £900 worth of counselling or psychotherapy. These sessions would be arranged directly between you and the counsellor/therapist

Alternatively if you don’t know of a counsellor or therapist, we can provide you with a list of people in your area.

We can also provide training and awareness sessions on hepatitis C for any counsellors who will be delivering sessions if they are requested. However, knowledge of hepatitis C is not necessary to the process of a counselling session.