London & Thames Valley Prison Peer Team

Our successful first year

The London Prison Peer2Peer Project came about to support the BBV opt out policy implementation in April 2017. The Hepatitis C Trust received funding from NHS England Health & Justice to deliver a peer project within the 8 London prisons; HMP Belmarsh, HMP Brixton, HMP Feltham, HMP Isis, HMP Pentonville, HMP Thameside, HMP Wandsworth and HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

The main focus of the Peer2Peer project in prison is to raise awareness and provide support around hepatitis C. Research at the time suggested between 10- 24% of prisoners had been in contact with hepatitis C. The project also aims to provide practical advice, support and advocacy while also ensuring the correct information and literature is available to all.

The first Peer2Peer workshop was delivered in HMP Wandsworth in June 2017. After this session, 100% of attendees asked to have a BBV test. The Prison Peer2Peer project was unique as it allowed the Peer Educator to deliver hepatitis C information in a relatable way to the workshop attendees. Due to the success of this first workshop, the Peer2Peer project was quickly embedded within the substance misuse service in HMP Wandsworth.

Another unique feature of the project is that we work with the staff teams to identify prison based Peer and train them to deliver regular workshops. The first London prison based HCT Peer was trained in HMP Thameside in late 2017. At the year end, the team were supporting 18 prison based Peer Educators across London, to share their lived experience of hepatitis C.

By the end of the projects first year, the team had delivered a Peer2Peer workshop to 332 attendees across 6 of the sites and referred 110 of these attendees to healthcare for a BBV test. The number of attendees requesting a test began to fall the further embedded the BBV opt-out policy became to prison reception protocols.

The BBV training, also called Hepatitis Awareness Training (HAT) was delivered to 207 attendees across 7 of the London prisons to both staff and service users, to ensure the correct information was provided to all.                         

As 2017/2018 closed the team had made 1044 contacts from Outreach on the prisons wings or in the library by one to one support, group workshops and staff/peer training.                   

The team also undertook a literature drop between January and March 2018 delivering a total of 3900 bespoke postcards to each cell in HMP Brixton, HMP Isis and HMP Wandsworth. The aim of this activity was to ensure each prisoner was aware of the testing and treatment options available to them.

Continuing the Peer2Peer project success

As the team continued in the financial year 2018/2019, the project continued to grow with many World Hepatitis Day events through the summer in HMP Brixton, HMP Belmarsh, HMP Isis, HMP Thameside and HMP Wormwood Scrubs with the team supporting  around 500 men to undertake a BBV test. The team also supported HMP Dovegate to deliver a well-attended World Hepatitis Day event.

Due to the success of the Prison Peer2Peer project in London, it has now been rolled out nationally. The London team expanded into HMP Aylesbury, HMP Bullingdon, HMP Grendon & HMP Springhill, HMP High Down and FNP Huntercombe. The Team also cover Gatwick IRC and Heathrow IRC. As each prison is different, the project has been adapted to suit each prison’s needs and regime.

The London Prison Peer Team is made up as follows:

 Director of Prison Services – Sean Cox

London Prison Peer Coordinator – Eddie Meyers

Prison Peer Educator – Tony McClure