An important message from Grant Sugden, Chief Executive
Waverley Care exists to be there for people who need support with HIV, hepatitis C and sexual health across Scotland. I am determined that we can continue to be there for them over the weeks and months to come, when they may need us more than ever before.
We need you now more than ever.
At this time of great worry and uncertainty for us all, I hope that you and your loved ones are in good health.
Here at Waverley Care, we're following Government advice and have put strict measures in place to protect our staff, volunteers and service users.
Although we've taken the difficult decision to suspend our in-person support and testing services across Scotland, we need to continue to be there for people who need support with HIV, hepatitis C and sexual health - especially those who are particularly vulnerable or isolated at this time.
A great number of our service users are not only living with HIV and/or Hepatitis C, but are also dealing with a range of other physical or mental health issues, poverty, homelessness, isolation, domestic violence or addiction – issues which could be exacerbated by increased isolation and reductions in support services. As a result of these unprecedented times, our service users may find it even harder to deal with their situation and need our help more than ever.
Ensuring we continue to be there for those who need us.
As of this week, we've closed our offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, and asked all staff to work from home, where possible. We're therefore having to think of new and innovative ways to provide support to our service users in communities across Scotland. For example:
- Nathan from our African Health Project team is working hard to get at least one month’s supply of formula milk to HIV positive mothers across Lanarkshire at a time when the supermarket stocks have been decimated and food banks are having to close. Some of the mothers have also been telling us that they are scared to continue going into work for fear of contracting Coronavirus, but also don’t feel they can tell employers why, due to fear of HIV stigma.
- Allison from our Community Outreach team in Edinburgh is continuing to support some of our service users who are already incredibly frail and isolated - people who have no one in their lives. Last week she was asked “If I can’t see anyone, will I die?”. Some weeks Allison is the only person they would see or talk to. Allison said “We may have to arrange emergency drop-offs of supplies over the coming weeks and months.”
- Christine from our Hepatitis C Recovery team in Glasgow has also been working hard to support her service users over the phone but says “That’s fine if they have a phone. But some of the most vulnerable people we work with don’t even have a phone. We only see them when they visit the office or at medical appointments. I’m worried about them most of all.”
This is all happening in parallel to a drop in our income. As you’ll be aware, we rely on generous donations and fundraising from the general public to fund our vital services. Much of this is already at risk, including bucket collections we had planned over the coming weeks. We hoped to raise around £3,000 at these collections thanks to our dedicated volunteers but like many events, have had to postpone or cancel. At a time when our service users need us most, a drop in our income will put additional strain on our support services.
The fundraising team is working hard this week to develop new and innovative ways we can continue to fundraise for our services, but I’d also like to ask for your help.
Please will you consider helping us reach out to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C through this incredibly difficult period, by giving £20, or whatever you can afford?
Today, perhaps more than most, we are hoping we can count on you.
Waverley Care exists to be there for people who need support with HIV, hepatitis C and sexual health across Scotland. As I hope this message illustrates, our work is vital and I am determined that we can continue to be there for them over the weeks and months to come, when they may need us more than ever before.
If you are in a position to help, please donate online at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/12454 or send a cheque to Waverley Care, 3 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH6 3NB. Our mail will continue to be monitored.
With my thanks and very best wishes,
Chief Executive, Waverley Care