April has been a busy time for CHIVA!

We ran a residential film project with 17 young people in collaboration with Turtle Key Arts and the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith.

It was an exhausting, challenging, and inspiring week. The young people had already spent a weekend together at the end of last year exploring their experiences of growing up with HIV, to begin work on a film script which would tell this story. The project over the Easter holidays took these ideas forward and the young people produced the film over the course of a week. Exploring themes and key experiences in detail, then devising scenes and shooting the film. They directed, shot, and edited the film and produced the sound track themselves! It was a fantastic week, which not only provided support and a safe space to share and explore issues, but also for the young people to develop and explore their creative and technical skills.

We feel sure some will take this forward and pursue careers in film and music production we were so impressed with their creative and technical talents.

The film, with the working title of ‘If you knew’, will be finalized at the end of May, the young people should feel very proud of an amazing achievement.

‘00+’ South West Young People’s Group – Family and Friends Day was held at the end of the month.

This group is for young people living with HIV in the South West of England. The group had previously said they wanted to invite family members, partners and friends to a meet up, to talk to them about HIV and the issues they face growing up. The visitors got to see first hand what sort of activities the young people participate in as they watched them contribute to a document designed to educate student nurses about HIV.

Later in the morning the young people performed some drama and read out poetry and letters which reflected themes of isolation, fear and anger.

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A young person gave her permission for her letter to be shared with you.

She wrote it to her future self…

Dear future me,

What can I say? Life kind of sucks right now with exams and friendship drama you are struggling to see the point of taking your meds. Every time I try and bring it up with Ma she just doesn’t want to talk about it. I hope this is better now. It’s hard to be me when I’m always lying to the people I love or to myself.

I just feel alone. I may look calm and like nothing’s wrong but deep down I feel like I’m falling and I can’t see the bottom. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who I should talk to. I know I have CHIVA and they are only one call away but sometimes I need to see someone’s face. Someone I can trust, someone that will listen to me going on about my appointments. I hope we find someone like that.

People keep saying life gets better and I hope that this is true and I hope that the amazing people in my life don’t leave because I need them like plants need sunlight.

*Naomi (16)

(*name changed.)