A charity which supports children, teenagers and adults living with HIV is one of the winners of a Big Society Award, the Prime Minister has announced.
Over 250 regular volunteers help at Body & Soul, which has around 4000 members using its services targeted to provide support individuals need after a positive diagnosis.
David Cameron said they provided “invaluable work to support people living with HIV, their friends and their families”.
The programmes offered by the charity are tailored towards specific age groups, with practical support also on offer to help finding volunteering opportunities or to develop skills.
One of the teenagers that uses these services, Carey, believes they’ve helped her this year after her mother fell seriously ill and was taken into hospital in a coma.
She said: “At Body & Soul, I always feel wanted and reminded that when you have friends with you, your troubles never seem too big.
“Body & Soul has helped me realise that a some of the time I’m not going to feel fantastic, and I’m going to feel like giving up, but that no one is going to love me any less.”
The volunteers at the charity focus on a specific age group, and are trained on the specific challenges for those children as well as areas of HIV knowledge.
One of their trustees, Peter, who used the services from Body & Soul over 12 years ago after he was diagnosed at the age of 12, believes the group ethos helps.
He said: “I met people who struggled with the same issues as me, with taking their medication, with disclosing their HIV status, with the fear of being found out, at school or in the family.”
The charity’s director, Emma Colyer MBE, said everyone was honoured to be recognised with the award: “We would like to dedicate this award to all of the volunteers who make it possible for Body & Soul to continue.
“The impact of their skills and expertise and their commitment to social change is at the very heart of Body & Soul. Their impact transforms lives.”
The Big Society Awards were created in 2010 to recognise individuals and organisations who make an outstanding impact on the community.
The awards are decided by the Prime Minister after being nominated by the public and shortlisted by civil servants and ministers.