"It’s all about the people we work with and getting the opportunity to help a really stigmatized group of folk"

“I started volunteering with Waverley Care back in 2012. I wanted to build structure and routine into my own life at the time, and I thought I knew a lot about blood borne viruses like hep C and HIV, but I quickly found I didn’t – so volunteering triggered an interest to keep learning.

In 2016, a position for a Hepatitis C Support Coordinator came up and I immediately thought right yep, that job is mine! I was lucky enough to be offered the job.

For me, it’s all about the people we work with and getting the opportunity to help a really stigmatized group of folk make some kind of change in their life. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. Helping folk who’ve had a hard life see their own potential and what life can be.

When you meet folk for the first time, they come in feeling anxious and might feel embarrassment, shame, guilt or whatever it may be. Then when you’ve supported them for a while, you start to notice they’re actually looking you in the eye, they’re more comfortable, relaxed. And it’s amazing to see that smile on someone’s face when they’ve cleared hep C after treatment. Aye they might have needed a wee bit of help to get there but they can be proud of it because it’s something they’ve achieved.

Our work can be challenging though because people don’t know much about hep C and HIV but people should care because it’s a societal issue – we’re all human, we judge things we don’t know about, it’s an innate part of us. But I think it’s when people voice those judgements, it can have devastating effects for the self-esteem and confidence of folk we work with.

Hep C and HIV don’t discriminate – anybody who’s been at risk can find themselves diagnosed with one or both of these conditions. If only people could understand that and see how their words have impact.”

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