Linking Up at HMP Low Moss
James was diagnosed with hepatitis C the last time he was in prison. He wanted to get treatment but couldn’t get started due to the short length of his sentence. In other words, James was about to be liberated so there was no way to support him to start treatment in prison and finish it in the community. James faced lots of challenges upon liberation – he didn’t know where he would be living and struggled with his mental health.
“After I got out of prison the last time I just started using and never got to get on treatment.”
James reoffended a year later and was sent for a short sentence to HMP Low Moss, where he decided to get involved in the induction sessions. Here, James met our Prison Link Worker Billy, who was there facilitating a harm reduction and blood-borne virus session. After the session, James decided to get support from Billy in the hope that he could start treatment. Now that James was connected to our Prison Link Service, Billy worked alongside clinical staff to put a plan in place for James to start treatment while in prison.
“I feel better now that we have a plan in place.”
Despite being liberated into the community while on treatment, Billy was able to support James from entering prison to making sure he had somewhere to live and linking him up with support services to help him address his mental health and substance use upon liberation. James has now finished treatment and cleared hepatitis C.
“I’d have been in real trouble without support, it helps to have someone there to talk to too.”
Since entering our partnership with HMP Low Moss, our Prison Link Service has engaged with over 712 people through the induction sessions.
During the induction sessions, our Prison Link Worker Billy helps raise awareness of blood-borne viruses and testing, while increasing prisoner’s knowledge of harm reduction – preventing onward transmission of blood-borne viruses. The sessions are a chance for prisoners who have been at risk or don’t know their blood-borne virus status to get linked in through our service to testing and support within the prison.
With almost 1 in 5 people in Scottish prisons diagnosed with hepatitis C, it’s essential that we work together to make testing and support available for people within prisons and upon liberation. Our work with HMP Low Moss demonstrates that collaboration is how we can do this effectively, by supporting someone throughout their journey from sentencing to liberation and beyond.
Since we began working within HMP Low Moss alongside prison staff and clinical services, 316 people have been tested following referral from our induction sessions. This is 316 people who may not otherwise have considered getting tested or, may have found it difficult to access testing services.
Thank you to HMP Low Moss, for making our Prison Link Service’s induction sessions possible and, to Abbvie for funding our work and making a positive difference in the lives of people affected by hepatitis C.