- Posted:Thursday 12 May 2016
A London-based national organisation promoting the respect, dignity and wellbeing of children, young people and adults living with and affected by HIV.
Body & Soul provides services for HIV-affected families. Since winning a GSK IMPACT Award in 2011, it has seen significant growth in service users and volunteering, a greater reach through clinical partnerships and remote support programmes, and has developed an impact strategy to evaluate and inform its programmes.
What the judges said:
I grew up in Uganda. I had to do as I was told to survive. I wake up at 5.00am, clean the house, wash clothes. And the owner started abusing me. He had to put a gown on my head and rape me every day, any time he wanted to. I was trafficked to this country and they brought me in to have sex for money.
What lied beneath her lips was a story. Stigma whispered sweet nothings so violently you might as well just end your pain, you might as well just end your pain.
And then they called me, and that’s when they told me, “You’re HIV”. It was hard to talk to other people, you don’t know what you can expect from other people, but here you come to Body and Soul everything changes.
Body and Soul is a UK wide charity dedicated to transforming the lives of people living with and affected by HIV.
A few steps inside that door they feel something that’s a bit different, it’s warm, it’s welcoming and it’s accepting.
Our members really are some of the most marginalised sections of society and HIV is one aspect of their lives. Many of them are dealing with having been victims of torture, of war, of trafficking, of abuse.
Body and Soul won the GSK Impact Award back in 2011 and in the last five years we’ve seen a huge growth. We’re supporting around 1,200 members and now in 2016 we’re at 4,422.
One of the challenges that we had as an organisation was to really communicate clearly what are the complex needs of people living with HIV are and in a language that communicated with health professionals.
The impact strategy allowed us to look at what we’re doing, understand the overall headline measures in terms of physical health, mental health, psychosocial health, the practical needs and productivity, and you need skilled people, you need people that can help you deliver that. And so that allowed us to really refine the volunteer programme.
Body and Soul currently has around 250 regular volunteers. They might equate to almost doubling our staff team, because the skills base is everything. The young people that we support at Body and Soul we know are some of the hardest to reach.
Being a teenager anyway is a difficult thing, there has to be a place in the world where there isn’t judgment.
The remote programme that we launched Beyond Boundaries supports people that are geographically isolated, that are isolated through mental health or emotional issues, we connect with people through Skype, through telephone, through text, through email.
Body and Soul provides peer support to young people with HIV who attend St George’s Hospital. When we had our baseline monitoring we found that it made a difference to the attendance in our young people with less people missing appointments over time.
Life in My Shoes is a campaign that Body and Soul started. Our survey of school students showed that even when they had relatively high levels of HIV knowledge it didn’t translate to their behaviour. We have a question, how are we going to respond to the stigma that still is around HIV?
We decided that we’d make a film. The film Undefeated has now been see by hundreds of thousands of people both in the UK and internationally.
Now with hope she now looks at her reflexion without feeling sick and embraces every moment as time ticks by.
For me Body and Soul is a family I never had.
Body and Soul has changed the way I thought of HIV. I don’t feel like a victim anymore. I wake up every day happy.