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Review of the Year | 2020


Donate Now.pngWell... who saw that coming...?

Welcome to our Review of the Year 2020. It was an interesting one to say the least, and here are a few of the team to set the scene...


Words of the Year – Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced lots of words and phrases to everyday language that nobody knew this time last year.

Over the course of this review, you’ll hear from a few of the team about the very real consequences these words have had on the lives of our service users, and the difference that our staff have made in helping them through.

First up, here’s Claire, talking about the source of it all - Covid-19


Donate Now.pngA lifeline in the community

On 17 March, just a few days before the country entered full lockdown, we reluctantly took the decision to stop almost all of our face-to-face support services.

Although it was the right thing to do, we also knew it would be a worry for the people who rely on us for support, particularly those living with HIV and hepatitis C.

Many of our service users face stigma and discrimination about their diagnosis on a daily basis. In so many cases, we see some of the most vulnerable people withdrawing from their communities and becoming isolated - with massive consequences for their mental and physical health.

Lockdown had the potential to make things that much worse.

From the outset, we set up regular phone and video calls with service users, to catch up and let them know we were there if they needed anything. For some, it was the only contact they were having with the outside world from one week to the next.

As more contact moved online, we helped people get hold of kit like phones and laptops to make sure that link stayed open.

Thanks to these calls, we were able to help with day-to-day tasks that service users wouldn't have managed alone - things that so many of us take for granted like picking up the shopping or filling prescriptions. Robert was just one of our team who was out and about supporting service users who were shielding...

 

But for some of our service users, even something as simple as picking up the phone just wasn't an option.

Homeless people affected by the ongoing HIV outbreak in Glasgow, for example, are among the most vulnerable people we work with.

Throughout the pandemic, they've remained on the streets, but many of the lifeline services they rely on for support with issues like secure accommodation, addiction and poverty, have been unable to operate normally.

At the same time, without the daily stream of workers, shoppers and other visitors to the city centre, donations dried up - so that many found themselves in even greater financial hardship.

In these circumstances, the dangers to their health were stark. Throughout the pandemic, our Street Support Team continued to reach out to people in the community to offer support where we could, helping people get to services that were still running, while continuing to address the HIV outbreak.

That's included things like supporting a mobile needle exchange and distributing naloxone - a life saving treatment for people who have overdosed. Mhairi from the Street Support Team highlighted what her days have looked like...

 


Words of the Year - Lockdown

For our second Word of the Year, we caught up with Alastair to hear his thoughts on lockdown and how it impacted on our SX service users…


Donate Now.pngTaking things online

So many of the challenges that people face around HIV, hepatitis C and poor sexual health stem from stigma, and a lack of knowledge among the general public.

That’s why we work with communities across Scotland to start conversations about these issues. In normal times, that means staff heading out to local groups, businesses and events to talk about our work, answer people’s questions and offer testing.

But with events cancelled and people working from home, we’ve had to look at new ways to deliver information.

During the pandemic, we’ve placed a far greater focus on digital support services, like our online Live Chat service.

With most of the country’s sexual health services restricted or closed, and people unsure of where to turn to for support, advisors like Jen and Ruth have been on hand to offer information and advice on topics such as STI testing, PrEP and getting hold of condoms...

 

The reduction in testing services was a huge issue for people worried they had been at risk of HIV. We acted quickly in partnership with HIV Scotland to launch HIV Self Test Scotland to make sure that anyone who was worried about their HIV status was able to access a free self test kit.

In the first six months of the project, over 3,500 tests were sent out to homes across Scotland, and we were on hand to link people into treatment and support where they returned a positive test.


Words of the Year – Zoom

Our next Word of the Year, comes from Allison and Robert, who told us about Zoom, and how technology has kept us connected with service users and each other…


Donate Now.pngAdapting to Changing Needs

Alongside changing the makeup of how we deliver services, we knew that Covid-19 would have an impact on the types of issues that people would come to us seeking support for.

One of the major issues of the year has been mental health as people struggled to cope with the impacts of lockdown on their jobs, homes and relationships.

Mental health has been a huge part of the work of our SX project. SX is a all about improving the health and wellbeing of gay and bisexual men across Scotland - a community that continues to be disproportionately affected by poor mental health. In many cases, this is driven by the discrimination that still impacts the lives of LGBT+ people across Scotland, despite all the progress that has been made on equality issues.

We caught up with Chris, one of our Health Improvement Coordinators, to find out how SX has adapted to the outbreak to continue supporting the community…

 

More fundamentally, the lockdown has seen us look at completely repurposing services to support the wider Covid-19 effort.

The most prominent example is probably at Milestone, our residential support service that usually provides intensive support for people living with HIV or hepatitis C.

However, with our usual service users shielding at the onset of the pandemic and receiving support from us in other ways, we partnered up with NHS Lothian’s Public Health Team to offer a 'step-down' service for homeless people being discharged from hospital following admission for Covid-19.

By playing our part in a community-wide response, we were able to ensure that people were not being discharged from hospital to homelessness - providing them with ongoing support as they continued their recovery and freeing up vital hospital beds while the pandemic was at its height.

We caught up with Liz to hear about the change, and how staff adapted…


Words of the Year – Social Distancing

Next up on our Words of the Year, we caught up with Jo to find out what social distancing has meant for Wave, our sexual health education project for young people…


Donate Now.pngMind the Funding Gap

Throughout our history, much of our work has only been possible because of the generosity of our donors and funders.

In a 'normal' year, our fundraising team are organising singing events, ceilidhs and challenge events, sending out seasonal appeals, working with companies and community groups to help raise vital funds.

This year, Covid had different plans…

The arrival of lockdown meant that all of our events were cancelled, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where we raise around £100,000 each year. All that was gone in the moment it took for the Festival to announce its cancellation.

In the face of this, we’ve explored new ways to reach out to the public for support, particularly online. As a result we have seen donations from individuals double this year and we are looking to develop new and sustainable fundraising initiatives for next year and beyond. As always, please donate if you can.


Words of the Year | Key Worker

As the country ground to a halt in lockdown, our frontline staff continued to deliver vital support alongside other Key Workers across Scotland. We caught up with Margaret to hear how this impacted on our African Health Project…


Donate Now.pngListening

Covid-19 has thrown health inequalities in Scotland into stark relief, impacting hardest on communities who were already most vulnerable to poorer health. 

Through our projects, we work closely with communities who are at greater risk of HIV, hepatitis C and poor sexual health, and our focus remains on empowering people to live healthy lives.

Listening is a huge part of that process, giving people the opportunity to share their experiences, express their frustrations, and have a role in shaping change.

For example, throughout the year, we’ve been looking closely at the issue of transgender rights. The trans community in Scotland is relatively small, but individuals have told us about lots of examples of discrimination they face in their daily lives.

One way this manifests itself is that trans people continue to face barriers to sexual health services, meaning they experience poorer sexual health. In the first project of its kind in Scotland, we conducted research into why this continues to be the case, so that we can influence change…

We have also focused on national and international campaigns around issues like Black Lives Matter and LGBT History Month to show solidarity with our communities and stand up to racism and discrimination that still exists in Scotland.


Words of the Year | New Normal

Throughout the pandemic, there has been lots of talk about how people are coming round to the idea of living in a ‘new normal'. 

For our final Word of the Year, we spoke to Rachel who reflected on what this meant to Waverley Care… 


Donate Now.pngThe Story Continues

For the past 30 years, Waverley Care has been at the forefront of Scotland’s response to HIV, hepatitis C and sexual health.

Our history has been characterised by our ability to adapt to the changing needs of the people we are there to support and, in the year of Covid-19, that adaptability has once again been put to the test.

With news of a vaccine, there is hopefully light at the end of the tunnel, but where does that leave us? In the final section of this review, we take a closer look at how the stage is set for the coming years...

 

Getting to Zero HIV Infections

90-90-90.pngWe are entering a defining decade in the fight against HIV. Long-established treatments mean that people are able to take control of HIV and live long, healthy lives, while advances in prevention such as PrEP and U=U are helping to drive down new infections.

In fact, on World AIDS Day, the Scottish Government threw it's support behind the ambition to make Scotland one of the first countries in the world to stop all new transmissions

The single biggest barrier to achieving that ambition is stigma. The devastating impact of HIV in the ‘80s and early ‘90s continues to influence perceptions of the condition to this day.   

If we want to change that story, education is key. If we can do that, we can get more people into testing and treatment, and begin to repair the damage stigma has caused for people living with HIV.

At Waverley Care, we're looking forward to playing a key role in getting to zero.

PrEP Graphic.png

Hep C Undiagnosed.pngEliminating Hepatitis C

Within the next four years, we have a Scottish Government-backed commitment to eliminating hepatitis C as a public health concern.

This has been made possible by the introduction of revolutionary new treatments that have proved quicker and more effective than their predecessors.

The 2024 elimination target hinges on our ability to reach the estimated 10,500 people who are living with the condition, but have never been diagnosed, including many who are completely cut off from support and considered 'hard-to-reach'

Even if the target is achieved, the definition of ‘elimination’ means that beyond 2024, there could still be thousands of people with complex needs living with hepatitis C. Ensuring that they continue to receive support with a wide range of issues will be vital to our work.

Hep C Test and Treat.png

Improving Sexual Health

We all know it can be awkward talking about sex, but it doesn’t have to be.

We live in a time where there is clear support for improved sexual health and relationships education in our schools and elsewhere, alongside a broader movement that is improving our understanding of sexuality, gender and identity.

Against this backdrop, our involvement in sexual health has grown from a pure interest in its role in HIV transmission, to becoming a more fundamental part of what we do, particularly through our Wave and SX projects.   

This feels like a natural evolution. Like other areas of our work, our approach to sexual health focuses on those who face a disproportionate burden coupled with a lack of access to services. 

Our work puts us in a good position to influence change – now we need to bring people together to make it happen.  


Donate Now.pngThank you…

In an unprecedented year, our thanks go to all of our amazing service users, staff, volunteers and supporters who have helped us this year. 

Your contributions, big or small, are what makes all of our work possible, and we are so grateful. 

 

Among the thousands of individuals, groups and businesses who have supported us recently, special thanks go to...

AbbVie Ltd Addleshaw Goddard LLP
The Annie Lennox Foundation Appletree Trust
Baillie Gifford Bank of Scotland Foundation
Bellahouston Bequest Fund The Bohemians Lyric Opera Company
Broughton St Marys Parish Church Cafe Habana
Caledonian Thebans Capital Theatres
Carpe Diem Productions CC Blooms
Church of Scotland HIV Programme Criterion Tec Limited
Edinburgh Concert Band Edinburgh Little Theatre
Edinburgh Music Theat The Edinburgh Playhouse
Our Fabulous Fringe Fundraisers The Gannochy Trust
Gateway Exchange Trust Gilead Sciences Ltd
Glasgow FrontRunners Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust
Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland Heritage Lottery Fund
The Hospital Saturday Fund Charitable Trust Hugh Fraser Foundation
James Wood Bequest Fund Janssen-Cilag Limited
John Kirkhope Young Endowment Fund John Watson's Trust
KPE4 Charitable Trust KPMG 
The Lady Marian Gibson Trust Lankelly Chase Foundation
Lloyds Banking Group Loud and Proud
MAC AIDS Fund Make A Difference Trust
The Martin Connell Charitable Trust MHD Law LLP
Miss Isabel Harvey Charitable Trust The Nancie Massey Charitable Trust
The National Lottery The Netherdale Trust
Neon Eye Productions Ltd Off The Kerb Productions
Open Mike Productions Peoples Postcode Lottery
Phoenix Group Holdings Plc Planet Bar
Pleasance Theatre Trust Ponton House Trust
Punk for Pam The R S Macdonald Charitable Trust
The Reed Foundation The RKT Harris Charitable Trust
The Robertson Trust Royal Bank of Scotland
The Russell Trust Saints and Sinners Club of Scotland
Schroder Charity Trust Scotch Whisky Action Fund
Scottish Government The Sir Jules Thorne Charitable Trust
Sky UK Limited St Augustine's High School
Staff and students at The University of Edinburgh Starbucks
The Street Swinton Paterson Trust
Sylvia Aitken Charitable Trust

 

Keep up to date on Waverley Care's news, events and fundraising activities.

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