How peer support could help you through your hep C journey
It can feel daunting being diagnosed with hep C and taking the first step towards finding the support that you need. Many people find it difficult to speak to those around them or even to their family about what they are going through mentally and physically. It is also sometimes a struggle to find the right information that you need to help yourself. If this is how you feel too, it’s worth considering that a peer support worker may be able to give you the advice and help that you need.
Peer support workers can help you with your hep C
Peer support workers help others through sharing their own experience and offering practical help. Many peer workers, such as Tim, an I’m Worth… campaign Ambassador, have direct experience of beating drug addiction and hep C. Connecting with a peer can therefore offer you a more personal perspective as you are able to talk to someone who has been through similar challenges and who has overcome difficult times in their life.
Speaking to a peer or joining a peer support group will also help you to understand that you are not alone and will give you the chance to meet others who are going through a similar situation. No matter what is stopping you from getting the care you need, your support network may play an important role for you to better understand your infection and cope with hep C.
What to expect
Peer support meetings offer a safe and confidential environment to discuss your thoughts, feelings and experiences related to recovery and hep C. They can give you information about accessing care, tell you about organisations that may be able to support you and offer tips and guidance on how to stay positive.
How you choose to meet up or connect with peer workers is generally very flexible. Peer support can be provided in person, online, by telephone, in a group or one-to-one setting – you just need to find a type of service that suits you.
I’m Worth… Ambassador and peer worker, Tim says: “I’ve been through drug treatment services and know how isolating it can be when you are diagnosed with hep C. I really appreciated the support I received from the staff at Telford After Care Team which helped me immensely at a time when I needed it most and now that I have overcome drug use and hep C, I take pride in being a peer worker and helping others like you. Opening up about hep C diagnosis and past experiences can be such a relief and with the right support, it’s possible to work towards a more positive future”.
Other support services
There are also other types of support services which you may find useful such as ‘buddying’. Buddies are volunteers who support people through hepatitis C testing, treatment and care and can accompany people to hospital appointments. They may be able to help you to understand the care services available to you and give you the support you need to beat hep C.
How to find peer support
Many organisations in the UK offer peer support. This includes Hepatitis C Trust, Addaction and Blenheim CDP. These groups offer support and information about hep C in a safe, confidential and friendly environment and may be able to help you through your personal hep C journey. If you do feel that a peer support worker could help you or that you just need some general support or advice, please visit their websites for more information.