Hepatitis HITT at HMP Leyhill

Micro-Elimination of Hepatitis C at HMP Leyhill

During week commencing 17th May 2021, we worked with our colleagues at the Hepatitis C Trust and HMPPS (HMP Leyhill) to run a High Intensity Testing & Treatment (HITT) drive, in support of the WHO’s commitment to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025.

The HITT was a huge success, with the prison now officially having achieved ‘micro-elimination’!

Read the full report here: HSH Hepatitis C HITT at HMP Leyhill

Hanham Secure Health, the Hepatitis C Trust and HMPPS at the Leyhill HITT

Peer Mentors Explained

We recently spoke to Matty, one of the peer mentors at HMP Bristol, to find out more about what the role entails and what part he plays in supporting his fellow prisoners.

What is a peer mentor?

A peer mentor is a person who is there to help with anything from prison life to mental health. To be someone to talk to that is or has had the same or similar issues. And if I can’t help, I can signpost them to someone who can.

When did you become a peer mentor?

I have been a peer mentor for about 7 months now.

What did you have to do to train to become a peer mentor?

The training consisted of mental health awareness, Hep C awareness, buddy support worker, social care assistant, substance misuse issues. I find that I’m learning everyday with each an every client. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to (who is not an officer).

Why did you decide to do this?

I’ve always liked to help. I watched people suffer in silence and knew I could do something help, so I started talking to some people having difficulties and found it rewarding seeing them get the right help and not just left in their cell to worry.

What is the best thing about the role?

The best thing is bumping into some of the people I have helped and they look and sound so different. It’s also good to hear just how much of an impact on someone’s life I’ve had, for just sitting down and listening, showing that you care and really want to help.

What is the most challenging thing about the role?

Is is easy to get people to talk about Hep C in the prison?

With Hep C I find some people put their defences up, especially if an officer is there. So I ask the officer to leave and start to have a good chat and explain just how easy it is to get checked and also to have the piece of mind.

What is the one thing people working in prison can do to support you in your role?

I am in a good position because I’m a “red band” so I can move around the prison. But before I was a red band it was hard to get to where I was needed, so if anything, [for] those of us who are not red bands they need to make it easier to go see clients.

The Leyhill Rap

In addition to the HITT, patients at HMP Leyhill are being encouraged to support and celebrate World Hepatitis Day (on 28th July 2021) by taking part in the 500 Miles song competition and the Walk 500 miles challenge.

During the HITT, some of the Leyhill residents performed a fantastic rap, with the following lyrics:

“It feels like my life is over
Cause Hep C has taken over
I used to be fit and strong
Now I’m getting weaker but;
I don’t know what is going on

So I will walk five hundred miles and I will walk five hundred more
There is no vaccine for Hep C but now they have found a cure

If I had to a time machineĀ I would go back to the past
I used to be first but now I’m last
I should have asked for help but now that moment has passed

So I will walk five hundred miles and I will walk five hundred more
There is no vaccine for Hep C but now they have found a cure

I regret my actions but now I found out there’s a cure
So I’m gonna knock at the doctor’s door
There is a 8-12 week tablet course
And then I won’t have Hep C now more

Then I can scream and roar

So I will walk five hundred miles and I will walk five hundred more
There is no vaccine for Hep C but now they have found a cure”