My Week: Jim Conneely talks hepatitis C in the West Midlands

The outreach officer at the Hepatitis C Trust recounts his week

Jim Conneely
Jim Conneely

Monday - This week, I'm taking the testing van to the West Midlands, so I phone ahead to confirm with venues that they are expecting a visit. I load the van with paperwork and testing kits and set off. As I leave London behind, I wonder if I have packed everything.

Tuesday - I'm up early and park outside the main drug service in Market Square, Wolverhampton. I'm joined by a local hepatitis C support group leader and a nurse from the nearby hospital's liver unit. It's a good-humoured day with people dropping in for tests and information. By the time we leave at 3pm, my voice is going after chatting to so many people. I pack up the van and make the trip down the M5 to my hotel.

Wednesday - I begin the day negotiating Worcester's inner ring road during the rush hour in the pouring rain. It's not for the faint-hearted. Thankfully, when I arrive at the homeless day service centre, there is a parking space right outside. The staff are warm and friendly, which rubs off on everyone. At lunchtime, I head to Worcester's YMCA, where I'm greeted with general uninterest by the young residents. I look for the noisiest group and we start chatting. Before long, the young residents are putting themselves forward for testing.

Thursday - I'm heading over to Redditch's YMCA, but I get lost in a little place called Deansway. The satnav indicates that I have arrived, but I'm actually in the middle of a housing estate. I pull out a good, old-fashioned map and find my way to the YMCA. The day is spent talking to young people about sexual health, which is not strictly in my remit, but some days it is part of the job. I then head back to my hotel. I don't fancy dining there, so I head to the truck stop opposite. There is just one portion size: extra large trucker. I waddle back to my bed.

Friday - I pack up all my gear and drive back to London. When I get back, it's time to unpack and arrange more trips out in the testing van. Next week, it starts all over again. I wonder where I will end up.

The Hepatitis C Trust supports people with the disease.

Jim Conneely is outreach officer at the Hepatitis C Trust

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