about us

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

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Positively UK is a national organisation which aims to protect the health and well-being 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 12 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.

We aim 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. Our staff are community representative on the Independent Advisory Group on AIDS, the National HIV Nurses AssociationLondon Fast Track Cities Initiative the  UKCAB, and the World Health Organisation Advisory Board on Women and HIV.

 

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 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.

Our history

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.

Our Mission

To share support and solutions within HIV and across the health and social care sectors so that people living with HIV receive effective care and support, in order to achieve the best health and quality of life.

Our VISION

Everyone living with HIV has access to effective peer support to increase their knowledge, confidence and connections, to improve their health and quality of life. We want all people living with HIV to have access to peer-led support.

Knowledge

Advancing education and research about health, particularly the health of those who have HIV and any associated health condition.

CONFIDENCE

Protecting the health of people by the provision of support services to people living with HIV and any associated health condition.

CONNECTION

Providing person-centred advice and assistance to benefit people living with HIV and any associated health condition.

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.

CEO

Silvia Petretti

Peer Learning, Partenrships and Policy Lead

Garry Brough

Statutory Contracts Team Manager

Beatrice Osoro

Services Lead

Sara Fraser

Senior Case Worker

Joyce

Gay Men Project Coordinator

Chris O’Hanlon

Women’s Support Worker

Helen Rogers

Homerton Peer Navigator /East London Case Work Coordinator

Christopher Buckley

Peer Involvement and Volunteer Coordinator

David King

Homerton Peer Navigator

Janine Read

The Seeds Project Coordinator

Virginia Cucchi

Case Worker Coordinator

Julie Willis

Youth Peer Support Worker

Michelle Bockor

Admin and Finance Officer

Memory Sachikonye

Women’s Project Coordinator

Neo Moepi

Data and IT Support Officer

Darren Good

Fundraising and Communications Manager

Ellie Angus

Welfare Rights Advisor

Rosa Midheksa-Kenea

GROWS Training & Policy Coordinator

Rebecca Mbewe

Media and Communications Intern

Lola Oates

Eoin

CEO

Silvia Petretti

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.

Peer Learning, Partenrships and Policy Lead

Garry Brough

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.

Statutory Contracts Team Manager

Beatrice Osoro

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

Services Lead

Sara Fraser

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.

Senior Case Worker

Joyce

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.

Gay Men Project Coordinator

Chris O’Hanlon

Chris is our Gay Men Project Coordinator. He 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. I’m excited about empowering people in becoming stronger and I appreciate the far reaching impact Positively UK has – for a small charity we pack a massive punch!”

Women’s Support Worker

Helen Rogers

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.

Homerton Peer Navigator /East London Case Work Coordinator

Christopher Buckley

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 and his favourite thing about Positively UK is knowing he makes a difference in peoples’ lives – “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 a volunteer for the charity “The Food Chain”.

Peer Involvement and Volunteer Coordinator

David King

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.

Homerton Peer Navigator

Janine Read

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.

The Seeds Project Coordinator

Virginia Cucchi

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.

Case Worker Coordinator

Julie Willis

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.

Youth Peer Support Worker

Michelle Bockor

Michelle is our Youth Project Coordinator, she found out about her status at age 13 and is a member of the Body and Soul charity community. Therefore, her aim is to help support and encourage young people who are positive! Michelle loves the creative arts especially theatre. She is a member of the National Theatres Public Acts company and has a background in the performing arts. Michelle was a peer mentor assistant for The Fitzrovia Youth in Action Programme. She also on the Youth Board of Project Phakama where she was trained in drama facilitation.

Admin and Finance Officer

Memory Sachikonye

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.

Women’s Project Coordinator

Neo Moepi

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.

Data and IT Support Officer

Darren Good

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.

Fundraising and Communications Manager

Ellie Angus

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.

Welfare Rights Advisor

Rosa Midheksa-Kenea

Rosa has worked as Housing, Debt, Money and Welfare Rights Advisor for Stonewall Housing, Account3 and St. Munog’s. Her last post was Housing and Welfare Rights Advisor for Hackney Recovery Service where she supported diverse member of the community to access services and benefits.

“I am excited to be part of Positively UK. I always wanted to be an advocate for social rights  from a very young age. I enjoy the interaction with different client groups, and also getting positive outcome for the clients. I understand how hard it is at times to access services and communicate effectively. I want to work for organisation that delivers service in a holistic manner.”  

GROWS Training & Policy Coordinator

Rebecca Mbewe

Rebecca is re-joining Positively UK as the GROWS Training & Policy Coordinator having previously worked for Positively UK on the Casework Team. She is a mentor, speaker and trainer who has long standing experience of working within the HIV sector in different capacities. Rebecca is a member of the UK Community Advisory Board which she represents at the British HIV Association Steering Group Committee. She is also an Associate at the Salamander Trust (4M Project). She is passionate about women’s issues and spends much of her time advocating for and supporting other women. Rebecca has been living well with HIV for  24 years.  She holds a BSc in Psychology and an MBA in Healthcare.

Media and Communications Intern

Lola Oates

Lola is our new media and communications intern. Lola is going into her second year at Durham University studying for a BA in Liberal Arts. She has grown up around the world having lived in 8 different countries throughout her childhood. She also has been involved in the charity sector throughout her school life running a charity called Building Futures at school and was a representative for the Durham University Charity Fashion Show 2020 (largest student fundraiser event in the UK).

Eoin

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Meet OUR TRUSTEES

Jane Burton

Trustee

Kevin Baker

Trustee

Fraser Serle

Trustee

Robert James

Trustee

LeaSuwanna Griffith

Trustee

Peter Oswaldt

Glyn Richards

Shema Tariq

Trustee

Corinne Squire

Jane Burton

Jane is the Clinical Research Manager in the Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC), at Imperial College London. She has been nursing since 1978 and has worked in HIV and Sexual Health for 26 years. She holds a Masters in Medical Anthropology.

Her expertise is in HIV, qualitative research, patient involvement in health care and nursing role development. She has conducted a number of qualitative studies including HIV patient journey, living with Hepatitis C and patient and public involvement in research.

In her spare time, she is part of the organising team for “The AIDS era: an oral history of health care workers” and she teaches and support HIV nurses in Eastern Europe through the Charity JUSTRI.

She has been a Trustee of Positively UK for 6 years.  She is passionate about the role of peer support and mentorship within health and is proud to be part of an organisation that has achieved great strides forward in achieving this.

Trustee

Kevin Baker

Kevin has spent over ten years working in the voluntary sector, firstly in a community HIV organisation in southeast Asia and currently for a global health charity in London. Kevin is a trained researcher with an MSc in Public Health from LSHTM and is currently completing a Ph.D. at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.  Kevin has been a trustee at Positively UK since 2014, having first been a service user and a peer mentor.

Trustee

Fraser Serle

Fraser is Anglo-Scots, he splits his time between Edinburgh & London. Fraser follows the Five Ways to Wellbeing in an attempt to him keep grounded and rounded. Started volunteering for Positively UK in 2011, initially as a peer mentor. Fraser was one of the founders of Gay Talk. He joined Board of Trustees in October 2016.

Trustee

Robert James

Robert teaches on the qualifying social work courses at Sussex University.  Before teaching, he worked as a social worker for people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues and for the NHS promoting greater patient involvement.  His PhD thesis looked at the history of HIV activism in England before and after the introduction of effective treatment.  He has been involved in the HIV sector since the late 1980s at various times volunteering or working for NAT, THT, Mainliners, Body Positive, the Haemophilia Society, etc.  He is interested in law and medicine, having done research on the criminalisation of transmission of diseases and is currently the community member of the BHIVA’s HIV and viral hepatitis clinical guidelines writing group. He is involved in the ‘Infected Blood’ public inquiry into the circumstances leading to the infection of blood and blood products with HIV and viral hepatitis during the 1970s and 1980s.  He likes watching sports and is a season ticket holder at Brighton and Hove Albion FC.

Trustee

LeaSuwanna Griffith

Trustee

Peter Oswaldt

After a career in banking and international finance Peter joined Positively UK as well as Positive East as a peer mentor. He has been supporting clients both on a one to one basis and through groups such as Gay Talk for the last four years. He has also helped and supported, as a volunteer and with the support of other  charities, asylum seekers  fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation. Peter is passionate about the positive impact of peer mentoring in improving the well being of people living with HIV and very proud to be involved in the country’s leading charity on HIV peer mentoring.

Glyn Richards

Glyn, a member of the Board of Trustees for Positively UK and a qualified solicitor, has worked in the health and care industry for six years with a legal and strategy focus.

Shema Tariq

Dr Shema Tariq is a Clinical Research Fellow at UCL’s Institute for Global Health, and Honorary Consultant HIV Physician at Mortimer Market Centre. Her main area of interest is the reproductive and post-reproductive health of women living with HIV, and the representation of women in HIV research.  She is the Vice-Chair of the British HIV Association’s HIV and pregnancy Guidelines Writing Committee and Vice-Chair of SWIFT (a national knowledge network for research in HIV and women), as well as immediate past chair of the 4M Mentor Mother Programme Steering Group.  Shema brings particular expertise in grant writing, collaborative research with third-sector, and HIV clinical practice.

Trustee

Corinne Squire

Corinne Squire is Professor of Social Sciences and Co-Director, Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London. Corinne volunteered with THT in the 1980s and has been involved with research and activism around HIV since then. She has conducted longitudinal qualitative research with people living with HIV in the UK and South Africa, about their resources and support needs, since 1993.