Main Navigation
  1. Via – Merton achieves micro-elimination of Hepatitis C 

    14 June 2024 by Erin Lee

    Our Merton colleagues.

     

    We’re excited to announce that our Merton service has successfully reached the impressive milestone of Hepatitis C micro-elimination! 

    NHS England and Via are aligned with achieving micro-elimination in our services to aid in the World Health Organisation target of elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030. 

    Hep C is a blood borne virus which, left untreated, can cause liver cancer and liver failure. It usually displays no symptoms until the virus damages the liver enough to cause liver disease. People who inject drugs are at the highest risk of becoming infected. 

    As of May 2024, our team in Merton has reached the following targets with the people who use their service: 

    • 100% of those in treatment have been offered a Hep C test 
    • 100% of people who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested for Hep C 
    • 90% of individuals who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested in the last 12 months 
    • 90% of people who were diagnosed with Hep C at the service have started treatment 

    By meeting these targets, we’re proud to report that Via – Merton has formally achieved Hep C micro-elimination! 

    In partnership with Gilead Sciences, The Hepatitis C Trust, staff and volunteers at all our Via services have been working tirelessly to promote testing and treatment with the people they work with, on their journey to micro-eliminate Hep C, and we hope to be able to continue the announcements of more micro-elimination wins! 

    Russel Styles, Director of Public Health London Borough of Merton said: “Merton is committed to eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030 in line with the UK target. It is very positive that Via are making excellent progress in this endeavour. 

    With modern treatments it is usually possible to cure this infection and most people with it will have a normal life expectancy. I therefore strongly encourage the uptake of Hepatitis C testing and then treatment when this is offered.” 

    Alex Hatfield, Service Manager at Via Merton said: “I am delighted to hear that the Via Merton service have achieved our target of Hep C micro-elimination. Our clinical and non-clinical staff have worked hard to ensure this goal was accomplished. 

    “Importantly, with the medical advances in this field in recent years, highly successful treatment options with few if any side effects, are now available. It has only been through a thorough testing programme at Via Merton, that we could refer people who use our services on for these treatments to improve their quality of life, and thus reduce the risk of infection from this disease in the wider public domain. 

    I would therefore like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all the staff that took part in this programme.”  

    Tom Sackville, Executive Director of Services said: “We are absolutely delighted to have reached this hugely important milestone in Merton. The team and partners have worked really hard to make sure Hepatitis C information, testing and treatment is readily available and accessible to all who use our services. This has made a really positive difference to people’s health and lives. The achievement of Hep C micro-elimination is something Via Merton is really proud of.” 

    Ben Lander, Peer Lead at The Hepatitis C Trust said: “I am very proud of all we have managed to accomplish together at Via Merton, the effort that everyone has put into spreading awareness of Hepatitis C, and getting closer to our ultimate goal of eliminating Hepatitis C by 2030.” 

    Laura Letham, Clinical Nurse Specialists – Viral Hepatitis at St. Georges Hospital said: “Reaching this point of micro elimination at Via Merton has been a team effort. At times this has been challenging, but it gives me great pleasure to know that the clients have received the treatment they need despite the obstacles they may face. Hep C trust peer lead Ben Lander has been invaluable in this process and his testing sessions have undoubtedly helped to get Via over the line. We have established a strong working relationship with Via Merton which I hope will continue as we evolve our services.” 

    Marlon Freeman, National Hepatitis C Coordinator at Via said: “Via Merton has worked tirelessly to provide testing, education, and resources for blood-borne viruses (BBVs) to people who use our services. Our team has collaborated closely with The Hepatitis C Trust and the Hepatology team at St George’s Hospital to conduct numerous testing events, which have been crucial to our success. We are committed to continuing our efforts towards Hepatitis C micro-elimination, making it a fundamental part of our harm reduction services and promoting healthier lives.” 

  2. Via and Brio Leisure launch new Swap to Stop scheme in Cheshire West and Chester

    11 June 2024 by Erin Lee
    Via and Brio Leisure colleagues holding Swap to Stop packages

    Pictured (left to right): Roma Dooley, Assessment and Engagement Worker, Via – New Beginnings and Alison Cheshire, Smoking Practitioner, Brio Leisure.

     

    Via is partnering with Brio Leisure to provide Swap to Stop for people who attend Via’s drug and alcohol support service in Cheshire West and Chester, New Beginnings.

    This new partnership aims to tackle smoking among those in drug and alcohol treatment across the county, by empowering people to quit smoking and lead healthier lives through the national government vaping scheme, Swap to Stop.

    In 2022, there were approximately 25,700 people in Cheshire West and Chester who were smokers, around 9% of the local population.

    When it comes to people accessing drug and alcohol support, this percentage is significantly greater. In 2022-2023, about 49% of the people accessing drug and alcohol treatment services in England reported smoking tobacco in the 28 days before they started treatment.

    As a result of the clear need that these figures illustrate, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Brio Leisure secured funding to deliver the Swap to Stop scheme for this vulnerable group of people.

    The support is tailored to the needs of people who attend drug and alcohol services, and will encourage individuals to believe in, and take ownership of, their capacity to make positive changes in their smoking habits and help them to take the initial steps towards quitting smoking by transitioning to vaping.

    Those who are eligible will receive a refillable, 4-week vape starter pack along with educational resources and support materials direct from their local Via drug and alcohol support service.

    Professor Helen Bromley, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Two in three people who smoke will die as a result of their tobacco use. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable heart disease, stroke, cancers and respiratory illness.

    The number of people smoking is particularly high among those being treated for alcohol and drug addiction. This programme aims to support individuals to quit smoking through partnership working and targeting those residents most in need of support.

    We want to help all residents in the borough to be resilient and able to live their best lives.”

    Dave Targett, Area Director at Via said: “We are very pleased to be able to offer this intervention in partnership with Brio. It is so very important to make the most of every contact we have with the people who use our services, to support them to establish healthy and happy lives. This programme will help us to do that, and the joint working is a credit to all involved.”

    Matt Parker, Managing Director at Brio said “Brio is thrilled we have been able to collaborate with Via on the launch of Cheshire West’s ‘Swap to Stop’ programme. This partnership is a significant step forward in our mission to reach individuals who might not traditionally access our community-based wellbeing programmes. By joining forces, we are committed to making a profound impact in our local communities and strengthening health outcomes. Together, we can support and empower more people to lead healthier lives.”

     


    About Via

    Via is a leading health and wellbeing charity that supports people to transform their lives for the better and helps them to manage their health and wellbeing independently. Providing safe and effective treatment and care around alcohol and drugs, mental health, smoking cessation, sexual health and employment support, Via supports thousands of people every year across the UK. For more information about Via, visit: www.viaorg.uk or contact communications@viaorg.uk.

    For more information about Via, visit www.viaorg.uk or contact communications@viaorg.uk.

    For more information about Via’s New Beginnings service in Cheshire West and Chester, visit https://www.viaorg.uk/services/cheshire-west-and-chester-new-beginnings/.

     

    About Brio Leisure

    Brio Leisure is a Community Interest Company established in May 2011. We’re wholly owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council (Shareholder), a company limited by guarantee.

    As the largest provider of leisure and wellbeing services across the borough, we have a shared vision with our shareholder to make leisure accessible, affordable and attractive to the people of Cheshire West and Chester, with the ultimate aim of supporting health and wellbeing improvements for residents and communities across our borough. Visit www.brioleisure.org or search ‘Brio Leisure’ on social media for more info.

    For more information about our Smoking Cessation Programme, visit: www.cheshirechangehub.org/services/quit-smoking or call 0300 777 0033.

  3. A family’s tribute: Riding for Ryan

    23 May 2024 by Erin Lee
    Via colleagues with Steve Green standing around a Via banner

    From left to right: Annie Miller, Liz Ayres, Sharon Cooper, Teresa Aspden (team members from Via’s Northwich hub) and Ryan’s father, Steve Green

     

    We’re really proud to share that family and friends of one of the people supported by our New Beginnings service in Cheshire West and Chester are raising funds in his memory.

    In honour of their beloved son, cousin, and friend, Ryan Green, whose life was tragically cut short due to mental health and substance use, the Green family are gearing up to participate in the Ford-sponsored RideLondon-Essex 100 mile bike ride on 26 May 2024. Ryan’s father Steve, cousin Chris, and friend and colleague Kevin are taking part in the remarkable challenge to fundraise for Via.

    Via’s Northwich hub provided vital support to Ryan, offering support and guidance throughout his journey. The service is also providing ongoing support to the family through their family and carers group.

    Drug, alcohol and mental health issues are often misunderstood, and the need for support continues to increase. The Green family, deeply aware of this reality, is determined to make a difference in Ryan’s memory by raising awareness and funds for Via.

    This mission is made possible with the generous support of Regit.cars and Electric Glue, the main sponsors of the bike ride. The Green family and their team are grateful for every contribution, big or small, as they pedal towards their fundraising goal.

    Dave Targett, Area Director at Via said: “I know Ryan’s death has been felt deeply by his family and friends who loved him very much. By taking this opportunity to raise awareness of the complex support needs associated with substance misuse, they are doing a great thing, and they remind us that society has a responsibility to care for those who need help.

    I give my very deepest condolences, not only to Ryan’s family but to every person affected by the death of a friend or family member, and my thanks to Ryan’s family and their sponsors for helping us to continue to support those with similar challenges in life.”

    For those wishing to support the Green family’s fundraiser for Via, donations can be made through their fundraising page here.


    About Via

    Via is a leading health and wellbeing charity that supports people to transform their lives for the better and helps them to manage their health and wellbeing independently. Providing safe and effective treatment and care around alcohol and drugs, mental health, smoking cessation, sexual health and employment support, Via supports thousands of people every year across the UK. For more information about Via, visit www.viaorg.uk or contact communications@viaorg.uk.

  4. Via climbs to new heights with The Reach

    09 May 2024 by Erin Lee
    People standing by a purple rock climbing wall.

    The Reach is Via’s new Capital Card partner.

     

    We are pleased to announce that Via has teamed up with The Reach, an indoor climbing wall, to offer exciting climbing experiences to the people that they support, through the Capital Card.

    The Capital Card is an award-winning reward card scheme which empowers and rewards people for attending appointments, participating in groups, and getting health and wellbeing support at Via. They can then spend their points on a range of products and activities in their local community, such as the cinema or gym.

    The Reach Climbing Wall, located in south London and local to our service in Greenwich, is a fantastic space for beginners to learn and for experienced climbers to excel. Users of the Capital Card across all Via-led services will be able to exchange points for climbing wall sessions led by an instructor. There will also be a reduced entry fee at off-peak times for those who wish to use The Reach outside of group events.

    Hakon McEvilly, at The Reach said: “We are incredibly excited and proud to be working alongside Via to provide climbing experiences for their service users. Climbing is proven time and time again to have massive benefits on not only physical health, but mental and emotional health too. The Reach is a welcoming environment, and we believe that Via’s service users will get so much out of being here with our instructors, or independently if they wish. It is a privilege for us to be supporting people in our local community, and we’re looking forward to joining peoples’ journeys via the power of climbing!”

    Gary Gemmell, Capital Card Manager at Via said: “We are excited to announce our partnership with The Reach Climbing Wall, where we aim to cultivate climbing experiences that go beyond mere physical activity, nurturing holistic wellbeing. With The Reach’s inclusive atmosphere, this will provide a welcoming sanctuary for our Capital Card users to flourish, whether under their expert guidance or through independent exploration. This collaboration marks the beginning of an exhilarating journey toward transformation, and we can’t wait to embark on it together.”

     


    About Via

    Via is a leading health and wellbeing charity that supports people to transform their lives for the better and helps them to manage their health and wellbeing independently. Providing safe and effective treatment and care around alcohol and drugs, mental health, smoking cessation, sexual health and employment support, Via supports thousands of people every year across the UK. For more information about Via, visit www.viaorg.uk or contact communications@viaorg.uk.

    For more information about the Capital Card®, visit: capitalcardrewards.com.

     

    About The Reach

    The Reach Climbing Wall has been a staple of the climbing community in London since January 2010. A not-for-profit organisation, its main purpose is to bring the sport of climbing to the people with a range of price plans and membership offers, as well as discounted rates for schools and charity groups. The Reach offers a fantastic space for beginners to learn and for experienced climbers to excel. It has some of the best Bouldering, Auto-Belay, Top-Roping and Lead Climbing routes, with all

    the facilities required for a great day of climbing. For more information about The Reach visit their website: www.thereach.org.uk.

  5. Via – New Beginnings – Brent achieves micro-elimination of Hepatitis C 

    04 April 2024 by Erin Lee
    A group of people smiling and standing around a banner at one of our Brent services.

    Some of our Brent colleagues and partners.

     

    We’re thrilled to announce that our New Beginnings service in Brent has successfully reached the impressive milestone of Hepatitis C micro-elimination! 

    NHS England has a target to eliminate the virus by 2025 and Via services are aiming to do this in their local areas as well. 

    Hep C is a blood borne virus which, left untreated, can cause liver cancer and liver failure. It usually displays no symptoms until the virus damages the liver enough to cause liver disease. People who inject drugs are at the highest risk of becoming infected. 

    As of February 2024, our team in Brent has reached the following targets with the people who use their service: 

    • 100% of those in treatment have been offered a Hep C test
    • 100% of people who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested for Hep C
    • 90% of individuals who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested in the last 12 months
    • 90% of people who were diagnosed with Hep C at the service have started treatment

    By meeting these targets, we’re proud to report that Via – New Beginnings – Brent has formally achieved Hep C micro-elimination! 

    In partnership with Gilead Sciences, staff and volunteers at all our Via services have been working tirelessly to promote testing and treatment with the people they work with, on their journey to micro-eliminate Hep C, and we hope to be able to announce more micro-elimination wins soon! 

    Marlon Freeman, National Hepatitis C Coordinator at Via said: “Hepatitis C micro-elimination at our service in Brent will be another next great accomplishment toward NHS England’s goal of eliminating viral Hepatitis C by 2025. Our partnership in the London Borough of Brent with Central Northwest London NHS Trust is a strong example of great third sector charity and NHS collaboration. I have worked closely with the service and seen our Via/CNWL staff work tirelessly to BBV screen and sometimes rescreen service users to ensure no one is left undiagnosed with Hep C, Hep B or HIV. We would like to also send appreciation to the West London Operational Delivery Network who have closely supported the service to aid in reaching this milestone. The work in our Brent service will continue to ensure the best quality of life for residents of the borough.” 

    Faye Martin, Hep C Trust Peer Lead, said:Via Brent have been amazing to work with they have included the Hep C Trust in many testing/education events. Our partnership allows us to make sure service users get the best support through their Hep C treatment journey”. 

    Louise Hansford, South Coordinator Hep C U Later said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to support CNWL to achieve hepatitis C micro elimination in Brent. This service exemplifies the excellent partnership working between Hep C U Later, CNWL and Via and has drawn on the excellent work in Hounslow and Hillingdon. The Brent team made great use of the Hep C U Later Cepheid machines and training which I turn enables them to offer quick and easy diagnostic testing and support their patients into hep C treatment.”  

    Abby Campbell, CNWL Sector Manager & NMP said: “Congratulations to the New Beginnings team on reaching Hepatitis C micro-elimination! This is a remarkable achievement and a testament to the hard work, dedication, and expertise of everyone involved. Your tireless efforts have made a significant impact on improving the health and well-being of our clients who are affected by this disease. Thank you to all for your unwavering commitment to this important cause.” 

    Councillor Neil Nerva, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Adult Social Care said: “It is amazing news that Brent has become the next borough to successfully achieve micro-elimination of Hepatitis C in our substance misuse services. This is a significant achievement in tackling this potentially life-threatening virus. Partnership working between the Council, VIA New Beginnings, the NHS and, critically, service users has been central to this milestone. This goes to show what more we can achieve together”. 

    Max Griffiths, Service Manager at Via said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have reached this momentous milestone in achieving micro-elimination at New Beginnings. There has been so much hard work and dedication put into supporting our service users to get tested and treated for Hepatitis C. This achievement is a result of the amazing partnership work taking place at the service.” 

  6. Celebrating Via Redbridge’s Women’s Safe Space

    22 March 2024 by Erin Lee

    At the end of 2023, the team at Via Redbridge invited valued local partners, service users, and colleagues to the launch celebration for their Women’s Safe Space. Attendees were able to learn about and recognise the significance of the women-only space.

    A roundtable discussion took place which was incredibly impactful and led by women sharing inspiring stories about their experiences with the space. Everyone also had the opportunity to give important feedback about the space, such as how it can be improved, and how more can be provided within the community.

    The conversation was chaired by Service Manager Helen O’Connor, who’s a White Ribbon Champion and part of the organisational steering group. Our organisational White Ribbon Ambassador Tom Sackville was also delighted to listen and take part.

    Many women spoke about how the space is somewhere they can relax, and speak openly with other women in the group.

     

    Here are what some of the women said about the safe space:

    “I like coming to the safe space because I enjoy the company, joining a craft, encouraging one another and hearing everybody’s progress.”

    “This is what I look forward to throughout my week. Coming here on a Wednesday, sharing experiences, love, and stories with one another.”

    “I come to the women’s safe space because it’s somewhere that I feel comfortable, it’s good to keep busy and socialise with others. It’s just a good space to come if you feel down. Everyone’s really supportive and the staff are amazing as well.”

     

    Helen O’Connor, Service Manager at Via R3 said:

    “In Redbridge, our local authority has unequivocally committed to take measures to end violence against women and girls. As well as conventional crime prevention methods, they have also conducted safety walks, bystander training, and conducted a survey to understand the experiences of women and girls in the borough.

    Via, as a White Ribbon accredited organisation delivering several services for the communities of Redbridge, stand with others to be part of the solution to ending violence against women and girls whilst also making sure our services are accessible and safe for women and girls who are currently experiencing or have survived it. But whilst our Safe Space – and others like it – can provide a crucial haven where women can access essential advice and support that is related to their experiences of violence and abuse, these spaces have so much more to offer than protection.

    As our launch has shown, and as our service users tell us, these spaces can be the catalyst for women to find their voice and confidence, express themselves creatively, develop their employment skills, where they can be seen by a wide range of services ‘where they are’, learn and practice self-care, and pursue a wide range of goals with the support of peers and professionals.”

     

    Tom Sackville, Executive Director of Services at Via said: “It is brilliant to hear how what the women in the service said they needed has become the fantastic space that we saw. We heard from the women how important it was that they had somewhere they felt safe and able to be themselves, and it was incredible to see how they support each other in that space. We know how important it is that women have these spaces, and the difference it can make to their lives. It was really exciting to see a number of our partners in the community in attendance and I am really looking forward to seeing how, by working together and really listening to those who need the service, the space continues to develop.”

     

    Charlene Samuda, Recovery Practitioner who runs the space said: “I couldn’t have hoped for anything better really. When we started this safe space it began with one of our ladies saying that they didn’t actually feel comfortable in some of the mixed groups that we were doing, and it would be really good to have a space for women who just wanted to have groups with women only – so I decided to start that as a group. It went from a group, to a ninety minute safe space, and from that it’s now grown into four hours an afternoon – so it’s really good! I think the women kind of speak for themselves about what they have achieved here, what they want here, and I’m just glad to be here to be able to support them!”

     

    Nakisha, Volunteer/Peer Mentor and Art Project lead said: “The Women’s Safe Space is very important for me as it provides a confidential, welcoming environment for women with shared lived experience with supportive female staff. The safe space is a creative, therapeutic time for women to participate in activities such as art, acupuncture, meditation, and complete accredited self-development courses such as Next Steps and Nova. There’s also a chance for women to pamper themselves once a month with a nail technician. Many of the women have expressed that they look forward to coming to the safe space and socialising with other women, and are grateful for the service as it’s aided their recovery journey and abstinence. I’m thankful to contribute to such an amazing service supporting vulnerable women.”

  7. Via signs up to Age-Friendly Employer Pledge

    17 January 2024 by Erin Lee

    We’re delighted and proud to announce that Via has signed the Age-Friendly Employer Pledge, a nationwide programme run by the Centre for Ageing Better.

    By signing the pledge, we’re showing our commitment to older workers and making our workplace age-friendly. This means we’re taking action to improve our recruitment, retention and development of workers aged 50 and over.

    Being a part of the pledge means we draw on a wider pool of applicants for each job. It means older workers can continue to thrive and contribute in our organisation. And it means we can benefit from the innovation and productivity boost that multigenerational workforces bring.

  8. Via to provide new drug and alcohol recovery service in Gloucestershire

    16 January 2024 by Erin Lee

    Gloucestershire County Council will fund leading charity Via with £5.8 million per year to provide drug and alcohol treatment services for the county.

    The new service will start on 1 April 2024 and run for an initial 5 years, with the option to extend the contract up to a further 4 years, which would bring the total amount of funding to £52.2 million.

    Via will provide free, confidential treatment and support to adults who live in Gloucestershire who need help with alcohol and drug issues. The service will be delivered from hubs in Cheltenham, Gloucester, and Stroud, as well as across an extensive network of community partnerships throughout the county.

    Research shows for every £1 spent on drug treatment, there is a social and economic benefit of £4. This includes reductions in health, social care, and offending costs.

    Mark Hawthorne, leader of the county council and cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “I’m really pleased to welcome Via as Gloucestershire’s new community drug and alcohol treatment provider. As well as helping some of our most vulnerable residents to turn their lives around, these services help to improve our communities. Housing, health, and social care services all benefit when drug and alcohol treatments are working effectively.”

    Yasmin Batliwala, Chair of Via said: “We are looking forward to working in close collaboration with our partners and serving the needs of our clients and their families within the local communities across Gloucestershire to deliver high quality services from April 2024.”

    As a leading health and wellbeing charity, we have experience of working with partners in Gloucestershire and are already working in collaboration with The Nelson Trust on the UK’s first women’s only detox which will also be based in Gloucestershire.

  9. Via Harrow achieves micro-elimination of Hepatitis C 

    06 December 2023 by Erin Lee

    We’re thrilled to announce that our Harrow service has successfully reached the impressive milestone of Hepatitis C micro-elimination! 

    NHS England has a target to eliminate the virus by 2025 and Via services are aiming to do this in their local areas by the end of 2023. 

    Hep C is a blood borne virus which, left untreated, can cause liver cancer and liver failure. It usually displays no symptoms until the virus damages the liver enough to cause liver disease. People who inject drugs are at the highest risk of becoming infected. 

    As of November 2023, our team in Harrow has reached the following targets with the people who use their service: 

    • 100% of those in treatment have been offered a Hep C test 
    • 100% of people who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested for Hep C 
    • 90% of individuals who currently inject or have previously injected have been tested in the last 12 months 
    • 90% of people who were diagnosed with Hep C at the service have started treatment 

    By meeting these targets, we’re proud to report that Via – Harrow has formally achieved Hep C micro-elimination! 

    This is Via’s first service to reach micro-elimination, and the third West London service and the sixth London borough to reach this incredible milestone. 

    In partnership with Gilead Sciences, staff and volunteers at all our Via services have been working tirelessly to promote testing and treatment with the people they work with, on their journey to micro-eliminate Hep C, and we hope to be able to announce more micro-elimination wins soon! 

    Oasis Azeez-Harris, Senior Public Health Commissioner for Sexual Health and Substance Misuse from Harrow Council said:Congratulations to the Via Harrow staff team for working hard to achieve the micro-elimination of the Hep C Virus through a substance misuse service, this is a huge achievement to be celebrated as we, as a system work towards World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ambition to eliminate viral Hepatitis by 2030. It is wonderful to see Via Harrow leading the way, being a beacon for others to learn from. This would not be possible without Via Harrow’s close working arrangements with other stakeholders, for example the Hep C Trust amongst others – this shows that joint work leads to better outcomes of people using services on their recovery journey. Well done Via Harrow staff team – keep up the fantastic work to maintain and exceed this success for Harrow residents using your services!” 

    Prof Ashley Brown, Clinical Lead at West London HCV Operational Delivery Network said: “Another milestone has been reached in our aim to eliminate Hepatitis C with the announcement that Harrow drug services have achieved their micro-elimination targets. Huge congratulations and thanks go to the team at Via working in collaboration with the clinical nurse specialists from Northwick Park Hospital, peers from the Hep C Trust, and the clients within the service in bringing this about”. 

    Anna Whitton, CEO at Via said: “This is a really positive and important outcome, which has made a tangible difference to many people. Our team has worked hard to make Hep C information, testing and treatment as easy to access as possible and we are really proud of this achievement.” 

    Vanessa Duke, Area Director at Via said: “Access to testing, treatment and ongoing recovery focused care is so important to our service users and everyone in the Via Harrow service is 100% committed to providing that! I am so proud of the team in Harrow for all of their hard work in achieving Hep C micro-elimination, this is a great outcome for our service users and for the community as a whole.  The success we have seen in Harrow is not wholly down to Via, we are so thankful to the local ODN (operational delivery network) and our colleagues from Northwick Park Hospital who deliver clinics from our service, providing access to Hep C treatment in a place where our service users feel safe.  Breaking down the barrier of having to attend another clinic or the local hospital has been key to supporting people to commence and complete Hep C treatment.” 

    Allen Quine, Service Manager at Via Harrow said: “We’re really proud to have achieved micro-elimination in Harrow; the team have worked hard for this and excellent communication has helped us hit our goal. We’ve worked closely with our local Infectious Diseases Team for a long time and this was a great starting point for us. Adding in very proactive input and support from the Hep C Trust, our data team and Marlon (our Hep C Lead) has been fantastic. Communication and co-ordination have been absolutely key – from identifying where (and who) to focus and following this through with that larger team’s involvement up to and including outreach. I like to see the public health implications in a simplistic way. The health impacts of Hep C can be terrible with a big social impact. If no one had Hep C, there wouldn’t be anyone who can pass it on. I am pleased to say that by achieving micro-elimination, this multi-disciplinary team have brought Harrow closer to that new reality.” 

    Dr. Vivienne Gosnell, Clinical Lead at Via Harrow said: “Achieving micro-elimination in Harrow has very much been a joint effort. The crux was having reliable, up-to-date data, shared regularly with our team, so that opportunities to test wouldn’t be missed. We worked closely with Northwick Park Hospital infectious diseases unit and The Hepatitis C Trust to host in-service Hep C clinics. Our infectious diseases nurse worked flexibly with those service users who were reluctant to engage, and our Hepatitis C Trust mentors provided fantastic support, taking medication to service users, and providing testing at home. In addition, we co-ordinated testing drives in the service and in partnership with University College London Find & Treat Community Van, where incentives like vouchers, Via’s Capital Card reward scheme and pop-up shop events were used. Successful Hepatitis C treatment not only prevents long term health complications such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer for those affected, but also stops transmission to others. We want to thank everybody involved for their hard work and dedication in achieving this goal.” 

    Faye Martin, Peer Lead, The Hep C Trust said: “Collaborating closely with Marlon, the Hep C Coordinator at Via, has significantly enhanced my effectiveness in my role as the West London Peer Lead. Together, we’ve successfully conducted joint training sessions on Hep C awareness and skilfully guided Via Recovery Practitioners in performing dry blood spot tests (DBST) for service users. Our partnership has not only contributed to the positive well-being of Harrow service users but also played a crucial role in supporting them throughout their treatment journey. As a testament to our joint efforts, we’ve successfully achieved micro-elimination of Hepatitis C in Harrow, marking a milestone in our commitment to improving healthcare outcomes.” 

    Marlon Freeman, Hepatitis C Coordinator at Via said: “Via – Harrow through a remarkable journey has reached Hepatitis C micro-elimination and is Via’s first service to do so. This success story is a testament to the unwavering commitment to improving health in our boroughs, particularly among a community battling substance misuse. Via Harrow’s achievements stand as a symbol of transformation, proving that through compassion, resilience, and innovative solutions, we can pave the way for a healthier and more equitable future for all free of Hepatitis C.” 

  10. Via backs introduction of UK’s first safe drug consumption room

    02 October 2023 by Erin Lee

    Via is delighted by the enlightened approach of the authorities in Glasgow in giving the official go-ahead for the UK’s first safe drug consumption room.

    There’s a misconception that a harm minimisation policy leads to condoning the use of illicit drugs – but the evidence from across Europe and Canada is to the contrary.

    Such services reduce accidental overdose deaths and help by linking individuals to structured treatment with all the associated benefits.

    Their introduction is a measured and incremental response to the present drug death crisis and will facilitate and enhance the effectiveness of other interventions. Consumption rooms are one component of a multifaceted toolkit, which could save many lives.

    Chair of Via, Yasmin Batliwala MBE, states that “This is an important step in the right direction and Via supports it and its adoption across the UK”.

    Additionally, Executive Medical Director at Via, Dr Yasir Abbasi, states that “Safe consumption rooms are tried and tested in many other countries and has evidence to support that they minimise harm and reduce morbidity and mortality. Well done, Glasgow!”