Posted on Tuesday 17 September 2013
The young person's HIV clinic team with two of their mentors
A HIV clinic that prescribes one-to-one peer mentoring for its young patients in south London has been shortlisted for a Charity Times Award..
In an innovative partnership with charity Body & Soul and St George’s Hospital, Tooting, the young person’s HIV clinic at St Thomas’ Hospital offers patients the opportunity to speak to someone who really understands what they are going through.
MK, 24, who was diagnosed with HIV aged 17 and has been a Body & Soul mentor for two years, says: “It took me over a year before I could accept any help and learn to come to terms with my diagnosis. I wish I’d had the same support throughout that time that I can offer to patients at St Thomas’.
“Being a mentor allows me to help people and give them hope, but at the same time it helps and empowers me, I am inspired by their bravery. The doctors and nurses are great, and I work alongside them to provide a different kind of support that only someone who has been through the experience can give.”
Together, the three organisations have been shortlisted for the Cross Sector Partnership of the Year Award. The category recognises a substantive partnership between a UK-registered charity and third sector organisations. The category recognises a substantive partnership between a UK-registered charity and third sector organisations.
Dr Daniella Chilton, consultant in sexual health at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, says: “The peer mentors are amazing. They have made such a difference to our patients, and have allowed our clinic to become a real one-stop-shop for their needs. Patients can pick up their medication, have a check up, and then discuss any issues they may have with someone who really understands.
“It’s very exciting for our clinic and partnership to be recognised, not just for us but for the peer mentors who give up their own time to help our patients. They are very special individuals who I feel privileged to work with.”
Mentors have been working with patients at St Thomas’ for two years and funding for a further two years has been secured from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the sole funder of the project.
Body & Soul supports nearly 1,000 children, teenagers and adults living with HIV in south London. Lambeth, where St Thomas’ is based, has the highest HIV prevalence in the UK, with one in 72 people being HIV positive.
Kathryn Forbes, head of public health engagement and impact from Body & Soul says: “For the 17 years that Body & Soul has been a charity we have prided ourselves on providing peer-led support. Many of the young people we work with want to start giving back and helping each other, that’s how the mentoring programme evolved.
“We’re able to offer our young people the opportunity to take an accredited mentoring course recognising their knowledge and allowing us to grow our partnerships with organisations like St Thomas’ and St George’s.”
The winner of the award will be announced on 16 October 2013.