A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
We protect the health and wellbeing of people living with HIV by providing tailored peer support, promoting positive attitudes and equitable access to health for people living with HIV. Positively UK advance education and research about health, particularly in relation to HIV and campaign against HIV discrimination, increasing the involvement, voice and visibility of people living with HIV in all aspects of life. Positively UK provides peer-led support, advocacy and information to everyone living with HIV to effectively manage any aspect of their diagnosis, care and life with HIV. We believe that people living with HIV are best placed to advocate for their own needs. Working in partnership with the NHS, our peer work is integrated at 11 clinics across London. We run a range of peer-led support groups for women, heterosexual men and women and gay men. We host events and workshops for recently diagnosed people – those who are planning parenthood or currently pregnant, including talks with activists, clinicians and life coaches with the purpose of supporting people and help them meet peers and form meaningful friendships. We offer training to people with HIV to deliver efficient peer support and collaborate with clinics and voluntary organisations around the UK to establish peer support programmes.
Our research aims to influence policy and decision makers in order to improve systems and services for people living with HIV. We host events such as the biennial Conference of People Living with HIV and are a stakeholder of NHS England’s Clinical Reference Group for HIV and a strategic partner of the Department of Health through the Women’s Health and Equality Consortium. Our staff are community representations on the Independent Advisory Group on AIDS, the National HIV Nurses Association, London Fast Track Cities Initiative and also UKCAB.
Our front-line services are provided by trained staff and volunteers who are living with HIV and best placed to support others, by using their personal and practical understanding of the health and social implications of living with a long-term condition that still carries stigma within society. Currently 85% of our staff team, including our CEO and Deputy CEO, and 95% of our volunteers are living with HIV. By our constitution, at least half our board of trustees must also be living with HIV. As members of the organisation, beneficiaries are responsible for agreeing annual accounts and electing the board of trustees at our Annual General Meeting.
In 1987 two women living with HIV, after finding that no services for women existed, took matters into their own hands, placing hand-drawn posters at clinics and inviting other women to meet in their living room. From this, the charity Positively Women was founded, with its ethos of peer led support. Over time new communities came seeking peer-led support including parents, heterosexual men, newly diagnosed gay men, and young people. Today we still we believe that the emotional and practical needs of people living with HIV can only be truly understood and addressed by the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV. Now Positively UK, our peer support services for women, men and young people sit alongside our campaigning and policy work to improving services and care for people living with HIV in the UK.
Meet OUR TEAM
Our front-line services are provided by people living with HIV, who are best placed to support others, using their personal and practical understanding of the health and social implications of living with HIV.
Silvia was appointed Positively UK’s CEO in February 2019; she firstly joined Positively UK in 1999 as volunteer in the organisation Community Development Team providing treatment information to women attending HIV clinics. Soon she became a staff member leading on support for women with drug and alcohol issues and providing outreach in Holloway prison. Since then Silvia has worked in many roles as a manager, from setting up PozFem, the first national women’s network, developing new activists through the Taking Part Project and the recent Changing Perceptions campaign. Silvia has also represented people with HIV on the British HIV Association (BHIVA) board, between 2008 and 2011, chaired the UK CAB and represented the Global Network of People Living with HIV at the United Nations; she currently sits on World Health Organisation advisory board on women and HIV. Silvia. Silvia has been living with HIV for 23 years.
Garry joined Positively UK in 2015 to coordinate the delivery of Project 100 peer support within clinics and organisations in London. He has been living with HIV for 26 years and his involvement in HIV peer support started when he co-founded the Bloomsbury Patients Network in 1999. He went on to become the clinic’s first paid Patient Representative. He has also run an HIV exercise referral programme and worked as an HIV Health Trainer. Before joining Positively UK he worked on setting up the My HIV website and its Community Forums discussion boards, managing the Online Peer Support Volunteer team. Garry is also heavily involved in HIV community representation on a regional and national level, via the London HIV Clinical Advisory Group, BHIVA Committees and as Chair of the UK CAB.
Bea joined Positively UK in 1995 first as a service user, then a volunteer and from 2005 worked as a case worker coordinating HIV and Immigration project, before joining the case work team in 2007. From 2009 Beatrice has been managing the statutory contracts, as well as delivers outreach services in clinics and facilitates the various support groups within the organisation. Bea’s passion is to enable people with HIV to be informed and empowered to make decisions to live fulfilled lives with HIV
Sarah joined positively UK as a volunteer coordinator in 1997 after 7 years experience of volunteering at The Landmark HIV centre in South London. At that time all peer support at Positively UK was provided by paid staff. The main focus of her work with Positively UK has always been with volunteers and in particular developing the role of volunteers in peer support. In 2012 she managed the pilot HIV peer mentoring project and pregnancy peer mentoring and now manages the national roll out of Project 100. Her interest is in the role that volunteering has in people reaching their full potential.
Joyce joined the organisation in 1997, first as a volunteer, supporting the administration team. She later joined the Case Worker team in 2003 as Sessional Worker, co-ordinating HIV services in South London. Now Joyce is the organisations project lead co-ordinator in the borough of Brent. She also does outreach in different clinics; working alongside health professionals in other boroughs. Her role involves advocacy and equipping service users with knowledge, skill and confidence to make informed choices on how to manage their own health.
Chris is our recent addition having joined the team as the Gay Project Coordinator here at Positively UK. Chris has been involved in HIV campaigning and activism for many years through various different charitable organisations, so you’ve probably seen his face around. Before joining Positively UK, Chris worked as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Sports Injury Therapist where he has worked with anxiety, depression and a range of phobias as well as coaching and development. “I believe in the importance of supporting people with HIV and addressing the stigma that still exists, so I’m excited about empowering people in becoming stronger”.
Helen joined Positively UK in October 2016. She was previously with the Positive Balance debt advice team at Lighthouse South London. She has been facilitating STR8TALK for 7 years and is trained to deliver the expert patient programme. Helen is accredited with a level 3 in Information, Advice and guidance. She has also trained with Advice UK.
Chris joined Positively UK in November 2017 initially working as a Peer Navigator in Homerton hospital on a part-time basis. He since came on board full time and now coordinates our East London case work. In addition to this he co-facilitates our Recently Diagnosed Workshops which we hold four times per year. Chris also acts on behalf of Positively UK as a community representative on the NHS HIV Clinical Reference Group. Prior to working within the HIV sector he had a 20 year career in the City of London and has never looked back. He considers himself privileged to be working in the sector – “It’s like a breath of fresh air. I am absolutely determined to encourage and support people to live well with HIV”. Away from Positively UK, Chris is also a trustee for the community interest company “Ageing Well without Children” and he is a volunteer for the charity “The Food Chain”.
David joined Positively UK in October 2017 as part of the Youth Project and is now the Peer Involvement and Volunteer Coordinator. David was diagnosed in 2014 and lives openly with HIV as a way to challenge stigma and present a different narrative of living with the condition. He is a committed activist and a founding member of ACT UP Bristol. He is also a steering group member of UK Community Advisory Board, a UK-wide network of treatment advocates. David has volunteered extensively with the Brigstowe Project in Bristol in the past. More recently, he has volunteered with CHIVA at their annual summer camp as a keyworker, and at the International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, July 2018.
Our peer navigator Janine joined Positively UK in November 2013. She is based at the Jonathan Mann clinic within the Clifden centre, Homerton hospital where she provides support and advice on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She is passionate about the principle of peer support and very much enjoys the privilege and opportunity to deliver this service.
Virginia has been gardening all her life and studied gardening and horticulture at Buenos Aires University. She has been living openly with her HIV status for a few years. “Before that I was feeling that I had a double life, as I am a very honest and open person and I didn’t like to hide that part of my life”. Virginia started advocating for women and heterosexual people living with HIV when she moved to the UK. She is involved in many initiatives – from grass-root initiatives and activism to policy forums and health research.
Julie joined Positively UK as a peer mentor and has been volnteering as a welfrae and benefits advisor before becoming a Casework Coordinator in 2016. Julie is currently providing outreach at the HIV clinics at Ealing and Royal Free. She is passionate about supporting people living with HIV in their life journeys.
Tania is a passionate youth peer case worker who joined in 2016. Tania has been able to work with charities like CHIVA equipping young people with knowledge, skill and confidence to make informed choices on how to manage their own health. Outside of the HIV sector, Tania empowers young women through personal development workshops and enjoys travelling. Tania also has experience in community development having volunteered in countries like Ghana and South Africa, creating opportunities for young people with limited resources to become more confident and skilled in order to inspire hope in their communities.
Memory was a volunteer service user from Positively Women 2002 to 2008. She lives openly with HIV and considers herself a mentor to other people, especially women, living or affected by HIV. She believes working in solidarity with diverse HIV advocates to ensure that several voices are heard as one. Memory coordinated the UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB) for ten years. UK-CAB is a network of HIV treatment advocates across the UK and is a project within HIV i-Base. She has gained vast experience in the HIV sector through working and volunteering within the HIV sector at local, national and international levels.
Neo Moepi is currently coordinating Positively UK’s Women project. Before joining as a Women’s Project Coordinator, she was coordinating our Catwalk4Power and Positive Talks projects. She has also volunteered for other projects, including our Taking Part and Pregnancy Journey. She is an activist, advocate, peer educator/trainer and a public speaker passionate about reproductive rights, mental wellbeing and social welfare of women living with HIV. Neo is a member of the 4M Networks a UK National Network of Peer Mentor Mothers and UKCAB. Neo holds a BA(Hons) in Social Work and has extensive experience in Peer Mentoring and casework.
Darren joined Positively UK on a freelance basis in April 2014. He is passionate about supporting charities to use technology as effectively as possible and works with a number of other organisations. He looks after the service user database and other aspects of IT, and is working to make sure that Positively UK can fully harness all the possibilities of cloud computing. In his spare time he studies social sciences at the Open University.
Ellie is supporting Positively UK with communication and bid writing. She has worked in both fundraising and programme management roles for a range of humanitarian and development organisations, and as such is passionate about being accountable to affected population.