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Penzance Community Testing Day

THE Harbour Housing community outreach vehicle, affectionately known as Winnie, was out in Penzance this week helping with community testing.

A pop up site was set up at St John’s Hall for the day where individuals could access testing for Covid-19 as well as blood borne viruses (BBV). The event was promoted to those in the area living in temporary or insecure housing, as well as those rough sleeping.

Winnie has an indoor seating area, table, microwave, sink and toilet, making it the ideal facility for setting up a comfortable and confidential testing site that can be situated where there is the most need.

The vehicle was part funded by the Cornwall Community Foundation and we are always so glad to offer it to our partner agencies performing vital work in communities across the county.

Helen Hampton, Lead Clinical Nurse for Blood Borne Viruses with We Are With You was manning the facility from 12pm to 8pm with colleagues from the Hepatitis C Trust to ensure that all who needed the service had the opportunity to access it.

A total of 26 people came to be tested and were then able to receive information about ongoing support and treatment should they require it. 

The most common BBVs are hepatitis C, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

At Harbour we are committed to raising awareness and promoting treatment pathways for these viruses, and set up a hepatitis C pathway through our service in 2019 to get more people tested and cured, particularly those who struggled due to having no fixed address.

Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C virus infection and people experiencing homelessness are thought to be 50 times more likely to be infected. (World Health Organization and Homeless Link)

Public Health England currently aims to eliminate the virus by 2030, and to achieve this it is so important that more people get tested and are then supported to receive treatment.

Testing Day

People receiving the BBV test could then access the pop up site from NHS Test and Trace to be tested for Covid-19, with Harbour Housing staff members on site helping out with the administrative side to ensure that people coming through were able to receive the results of their test.

Getting tested is the crucial first step towards getting cured for any virus, and through empowering individuals with this important information about their own health, key decisions about treatment and prevention were able to be made.

Health inequality is a big concern for those facing homelessness and in insecure housing, so targeted interventions and support provisions such as this event are important steps in pushing for equal health access and outcomes. 

The community testing event was a big multi-agency effort from Cornwall Council, NHS Test and Trace, We Are With You and the Hepatitis C Trust, and we were so pleased to be able to do our part to support.

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