EAST provides a range of services, mostly for people living with HIV. Information and advice are also available to people who are affected by because a family member or friend is HIV+ and to anyone with concerns about the condition.
EAST's client work focuses on providing:
- information, advice and emotional support to people newly-diagnosed with HIV
- practical help and advocacy to people living with HIV in the context of challenging life circumstances
- assistance and encouragement to people seeking to improve their educational or career prospects
- help in developing strategies for individuals combating social isolation, stigma and the fear of stigma
Our client support workers travel all over Norfolk to meet clients and provide them with the help they need. This could be talking through the implications of a recent diagnosis or helping to fill out a form. Or it could be providing support in one of a thousand other situations. Our workers accompany clients to tribunals and help them bring appeals. They assist clients with making job applications, getting into counselling, building links with their local community or they simply enjoy a chat with them with over a cup of coffee. Many of our clients face serious life challenges but others are doing well and just appreciate the odd contact with someone who is aware of the challenges they are facing and is fully on their side.
In addition to these one-to-one forms of support, our workers also organise social groups, outings, and talks for clients or assist them in developing their own peer support networks. Group meetings are held at our base in Norwich or at other locations according to service-user demand from clients. They can play an important part in reducing the social isolation that some clients experience.
While most client services are provided by our client support workers EAST also deploys sessional workers to assist with some client work. They help with organising social events and outings or assist clients in getting involved with our projects.
Complementary therapies can be arranged on request. These include, massage, aromatherapy and Reiki.
In Norfolk complementary therapies are provided at our centre in Cathedral Street.
In Peterborough we we will arrange for clients to visit practitioners at their own premises.
Talks about different complementary therapies and their benefits by expert speakers are often arranged for our social group meetings.
Our Norfolk clients receive the support of clinical psychology services from the NHS in Norwich which proves of enormous value especially during the stressful time following diagnosis.
To extend similar support to service users in Peterborough we have introduced a counselling service provided by a UKCP trained psychotherapist with extensive experience of counselling people with HIV. Appointments can be arranged through our client support worker.
We have close links to other sexual health services in Norfolk and work with them to provide training sessions in basic HIV awareness to a variety of audiences including schools and youth groups.
We are currently supporting HIV prevention outreach work in Peterborough and will be extending this work in the course of 2015. Our focus will be on minority communities at perceived risk of HIV infection.