To be a volunteer at BHA gives you a feeling you’re part of something big which is there solely to help people from all walks of life to better themselves & give them a helping hand when they’re in need. The work is varied and can be tuned around your skills, predilection and hours.
I jointly volunteer delivering the Positive Self-Management Programme that supports others how to cope better living with HIV and possible other long-term health conditions. I’ve learned a lot from BHA in terms of sexual health knowledge, the types of discrimination & other health issues people face as well as my own personal development. They are also very understanding when I feel not well enough or have other things preventing me from coming in.
I get a warm feeling like no other when I’m helping others. It boosts my mood and self-esteem to know I’m doing something good. I learn a lot and have certainly improved my mental health by volunteering with them. I’ve especially noticed my social skills get better as well as making some new friends. I also get a great feeling of achievement when something I’ve helped in or suggested has been implemented or goes really well.
As a volunteer you are part of a vital and valued part of the BHA Skyline team. There are many diverse opportunities which I have been involved with in my 8 years as a volunteer. I got involved with Skyline because it is a good cause and I know many people living with or affected by HIV. I have been involved in admin/reception support, the young people’s group and fund-raising. I also volunteer with the Prevention service-outreach within African communities and HIV testing.
One of the recent events which I enjoyed helping with was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT) arranged by Leeds City Council. The Engagement Planning Group has planned activities at several events in Leeds which include Beeston Festival in June, Leeds Pride and Leeds Black Music Festival 2016 in August.
My own life has been improved since being involved with BHA as a volunteer and you get lots of experience. I would encourage others to get involved because it helps your confidence and self-esteem, but also gives you experience if you want to go back to work. One of my greatest achievements in my time as a volunteer is winning’ Best Volunteer’ 5 times from the LGBT Awards in Leeds.
After years of procrastination this is the first time I have volunteered for a charity (unless it was to blag myself a free festival ticket). I wish I had done this sooner. I feel like I’m part of a big family, one that is full of love and a lot less bickering!
I have felt truly humbled by some of the stories that I’ve heard. Being a part of BHA helps me to think about and resolve some of the issues in my life whilst using my life experience to try and help others. It’s just as exciting meeting a young person who wants sexual health advice for the first time as it is having a discussion with someone older who needs love and support.
Being a volunteer with BHA is multi-faceted and offers a depth of hands-on experience into the daily machinations of how a much needed and loved charitable organisation runs, and a good insight into how diverse a field HIV is. You get to work with a committed and talented team of staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds that make it an interesting place and have a real international feel. There are opportunities to contribute to the exciting work of the prevention and support elements of the work as well as helping with the more administrative tasks that help to keep a wonderful space for service users, volunteers and staff alike. Volunteers are very much appreciated and valued and are rewarded for their contribution.
I have gained a very valuable understanding of how HIV-related work is done on the ground and at a grass-roots level. It is heartening and life-affirming to see how service users appreciate everyone’s efforts and it is very much a community. Volunteering greatly enhances interpersonal skills because you are involved with interacting with a diverse group of people at all levels. There are opportunities here to get further training too, such as in Human Rights which has been a real eye-opener. I am very fond of BHA, and there is nowhere quite like it!
Since 2009, I’ve been a volunteer for BHA for Equality. I manage the food distribution program called the Fareshare Project. This project aims to lessen the struggles faced by those affected by HIV and experiencing financial hardship. My key responsibilities include distributing food, maintaining records and creating a friendly and peaceful environment for the service users. Fareshare Fridays is a wonderful opportunity for people to come together in a safe place to socialize and seek comfort and support in one another. It’s not just about the food. It’s about the camaraderie. From time to time, I also help out in other areas. I assist the sexual health team with preparing condom packs and leaflets. I participate in setup and breakdown of large events. I also help raise HIV awareness.
I really enjoyed all aspects of the work I do for BHA. Volunteering for BHA has given me the opportunity to build on my skills, learn new ones and meet new people. It has given me the chance to push myself beyond my comfort zone and grow as a person. It has also helped me form lifelong friendships and support.
I would recommend volunteering at BHA to anyone who is looking for an ‘off the beaten path’ type of volunteer work. No day is the same. With every day and assignment given comes a new set of challenges to overcome and it feels fantastic to look back and see all that has been accomplished.