What we've been up to this month:

Our biggest event of the year, our Freedom To Be support camp for children growing up with HIV took place the week of 13th August. This year 102 children attended; our biggest camp yet! 5 children from Ireland, 2 from Scotland, 3 from Wales and every other UK region represented. CHIVA organise and cover the costs of all the travel for children attending and all camp costs.

This ensures there are no barriers to any child with HIV attending. It stretches our little team a lot and takes out months of our work in the year but there is no doubting that it’s the one event we run which we are confident can change the way a child feels about their HIV in one week.

For young people growing up with HIV, social isolation is a key impact and feeling different from peers, who generally won’t know about their HIV. The enormity of arriving on day one, many will never have met another young person living with HIV before camp.

Arriving at camp changes all that in one moment, seeing 100 other young people who live with HIV like them and face the same challenges. The need to comply to a daily medication regime, keep engaged with your health team, manage friendships and relationships, how to tell other people…..all shared experiences at camp.

So it’s worth it. The long days preparing; the 102 individual travel plans and train tickets that had to be booked. The need for chaperones from across the UK to support young people’s travel to camp, the activity leaders and workshop facilitators recruited. The volunteer team all set, trained and committed to being at camp all week, with limited sleep and a lot of demands made of them.

We are hugely grateful to all who support our camp. And a big thank youto all the Raise Your Hands members. Our grant from Raise Your Hands last year contributed towards the costs of our camp this summer. Thank you for making sure we could make camp happen.