George House Trust

Pictured above: Michael Johnson (Corpteluk Charity Co-ordinator) and Rosie Robinson (George House Trust Chief Executive).
On Tuesday 9th of July 2013, I visited the Manchester based HIV charity George House Trust, to present them with a £1000 cheque corpteluk has kindly donated to their cause. Established in 1985, George House Trust is the second oldest HIV charity in England. From it's orgins of six young HIV sufferers who simply wanted to provide a basic help service to other HIV sufferers, it has grown to become the largest HIV charity outside of London. It has over 150 volunteers and without them the service would not be able to operate.
On my arrival, I was greeted with a warm welcome from Office and Facilities Organiser Susie Baines. After introducing me to some of the team - including Chief Executive Rosie Robinson - Susie showed me to the training room, which plays host to a variety of events and workshops to help those affected by or living with HIV. These include 'Gay Men's space,' 'Women's space' and Health Workshops, all of which provide a vast array of support and information about HIV; exactly what it is, how it can be transmitted and how life can still be fulfilling when living with it. Since being discovered in the early 80s, our understanding of HIV has come a long way, but sadly stigma and discrimination is still going strong. A big part of George House Trust's mission is to challenge this stigma wherever it occurs and make sure those affected by it have the help and support they need. This environment provides something different for them, somewhere which is perhaps more uplifting and reassuring than a general practitioner's service or a hospital, as Susie told me:
"To hear medical advice and reassurance from a trained professional is one thing, but to hear it from someone who has lived with HIV themselves, makes such a huge difference."
George House Trust however - as Susie explained - is not just about providing information and advice on the effects of HIV, it's about providing a place where those affected by it can come together and share positive, fun experiences with others living in similar circumstances. A good example of this is 'Saturday space,' which puts on a range of exciting activities for people to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon, including karaoke sessions! Awareness Raising is also a big part of the charity, where events in schools and the wider community help to change attitudes and provide the real facts about HIV and the importance of regularly testing for HIV.

Pictured above: Myself with the George House Trust team.
Before my departure, Susie introduced me to the rest of the staff - volunteers on the phones, those working hard in the accounts department, volunteers at reception and many more - all of whom contribute to the uplifting, positive and welcoming environment which makes George House Trust the success it is. It doesn't matter whether someone has been diagnosed ten minutes ago or has been living with HIV for ten years, anyone is welcome through their doors.
Many thanks to all at George House Trust!

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