“My life is not the same as when I came for the first time, I am happy now. This group is my home/family/sisters. BHA is my shoulder to cry on, my 999.”
“So helpful and eye opening. When I am here I don’t feel alone with this, but ultimately it allows me to let go of the anger and hate and feel accepted. You guys are legends. Cheers.”
“My support worker had a challenge to get through to an intelligent, intellectual, once career obsessed individual but with the help of that person and attending the weekly group meeting, fourteen years of neurosis and hidden emotions have been released. It’s not something that a referral to a counsellor from my GP would have achieved and my Doctor can add testament to that.”
“Since coming to PACT I have developed my knowledge and understanding of HIV, of developments in HIV care and treatments, on how to get the best results from my consultants appointments and boosted my confidence to a point it has not ever been since my diagnosis.”
“I am a 28 year old black African woman. I was diagnosed at 17, but told it was likely I had been positive since birth. It was a huge shock. I was introduced to Skyline, and met the women at Valour. I thought I was the only person in the UK with HIV, and that no one would accept me. They welcomed me like family, and later, when I had my baby boy, they treated me like their daughter. The support I have received via this group has saved my life, a life I now value more because I have my son to look after. I volunteer now at Skyline, and speak at World Aids Day events. I share my story because I hope it helps others. It is a good feeling giving back to my community what was given to me”.
“I was diagnosed in 2010 after falling ill, and not knowing why. I was so angry and confused, and also apprehensive about meeting new people. I was very worried about confidentiality. I eventually came in to the office and met a support worker. I immediately felt at ease, and became a regular. I started attending Valour, and everything fell into place. It has supported me emotionally in ways I really cannot begin to comprehend. I am very grateful for the service and would recommend it to anybody. I attended the volunteer training, and found it very empowering, it really helped give me my confidence back. I owe everything to Valour, and to Skyline. It’s been a safe haven for me, and without it and all the friends I have made, I would be alone”.
“You have supported me to cope with living with HIV”.
“I can say Skyline has empowered me to enjoy life again”.
“I enjoy meeting the staff and they are always kind and compassionate to me”.
“The support I have and always have received here is the best”.
“You have helped me with confidence and dealing with stress”.
“I think the service and workers are great”.
“Skyline has given me back my independence and I have gained so much knowledge in the time I have been with them”.
“I have become more stable and confident about life with the support you have given me”.
“I am now confident in my life now compared to when I first contacted you. This is a major achievement for me”.
“I feel very supported as I have been very unsettled since something bad happened to me. My support worker listens to me and never judges”.
“If I have a problem I come to you and you help me sort it out”.
“I am more stable and content with my life”.
“It has been a tough journey I have moved on from the worst but I am always happier at Skyline”.
“BHA gives me a space to acknowledge I am HIV positive and a chance to meet with others”.
“Knowing I have someone to call on to help me is all the support I need. BHA gives me this”.
“As and when I have struggled with certain issues I have been able to call and have the support and the space to think and talk over things that are to personal or complex to discuss openly in my other support networks”.
“Thanks to you all for your warmth, compassion and support through the year. You have given me a safe welcoming refuge and the support you all give is life changing.”
“This group is safe and welcoming. I would recommend to anyone that PACT is good and welcoming to people whose first language is not English.”
“I need to be at PACT to get some balance of my negative thoughts.”
“The men are my sounding board and a positive influence on me.”
“I need to hear what other men think about my situation so I don’t get depressed.”
“Sindi”, 17, began attending Together 4 Life in March 2015. She was missing clinic appointments, but said she had no problems taking her medication, and no concerns about her health. At this point however, her viral load was 44,000, indicating that her adherence must have been poor. Despite not attending clinic, Sindi continued attending T4L. At the careers session, she spoke openly about studying health and social care at college and wanting to become a midwife. She had concerns that her HIV status would prevent this happening, and was already starting to impose restrictions on herself in terms of her future success. Sindi was made aware that this career was still well within her reach, in spite of her status. She could achieve all her goals and have the career she wanted by controlling her HIV rather than the HIV controlling her. She seemed surprised that she would be able become a midwife, having previously confessed to the group how she felt she had “let herself down” in terms of adherence. After a few sessions at T4L, she began attending all her clinic appointments and having honest discussions with her clinicians about the challenges she was facing at home which had interrupted her adherence. Over time, there was a reduction in her viral load, and this has now reached the target of undetectable. Her physical health has improved considerably as a result, as has her mental health.
In March 2016, we ran a session on treatment and adherence. A true testament to the tangible benefits of T4L, Sindi asked if she could speak at the group and share her own experiences. She wanted to show empathy to others and help them learn to manage their own regimes in a way that worked for them. She was proactive, inspiring and immensely proud of herself for turning such a corner, one that would certainly have impacted negatively on her life had she not had the support of the group at this stage.
Sindi has become a role model for the group, and it is a pleasure to see her gently encouraging the younger members to take control of their own health. She ensures every person in the group never forgets that if you stay well, HIV does not need to get in the way of you pursuing you dreams.
It’s a powerful message, made all the more powerful by the voice which is delivering it. Sindi is an asset to the group and a credit to herself. She is also the perfect example of the cycle of support T4L brings. Helping YP to learn, grow and begin to help others who are experiencing the same struggles.
‘It makes me proud to be part of this training day and see so many like-minded Black men around this table here at BHA. ‘I wasn’t going to attend the session today as I didn’t know what to expect but I am so glad I did. I learnt a lot and it was good to talk to men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and hear their experiences.”Thanks again for inviting me to the training. I enjoyed myself and found it very informative. Can’t wait for my first gig.’
‘The session on mental well-being and cancer was well organised and well attended. Something like this needs to be organised quarterly’.’ It was interesting and enjoyable – keep it up’.’ Thanks for this kind of service especially for BME. We need more of these sessions. The session has been brilliant!!’