Our service users feedback

Feedback from support groups …

“My life is not the same as when I came for the first time, I am happy now.  This group is my home/family/sisters. BHA is my shoulder to cry on, my 999.”

“So helpful and eye opening. When I am here I don’t feel alone with this, but ultimately it allows me to let go of the anger and hate and feel accepted. You guys are legends. Cheers.”

“My support worker had a challenge to get through to an intelligent, intellectual, once career obsessed individual but with the help of that person and attending the weekly group meeting, fourteen years of neurosis and hidden emotions have been released. It’s not something that a referral to a counsellor from my GP would have achieved and my Doctor can add testament to that.”

“Since coming to PACT I have developed my knowledge and understanding of HIV, of developments in HIV care and treatments, on how to get the best results from my consultants appointments and boosted my confidence to a point it has not ever been since my diagnosis.”

“I am a 28 year old black African woman. I was diagnosed at 17, but told it was likely I had been positive since birth. It was a huge shock. I was introduced to Skyline, and met the women at Valour. I thought I was the only person in the UK with HIV, and that no one would accept me. They welcomed me like family, and later, when I had my baby boy, they treated me like their daughter. The support I have received via this group has saved my life, a life I now value more because I have my son to look after. I volunteer now at Skyline, and speak at World Aids Day events. I share my story because I hope it helps others. It is a good feeling giving back to my community what was given to me”.

“I was diagnosed in 2010 after falling ill, and not knowing why. I was so angry and confused, and also apprehensive about meeting new people. I was very worried about confidentiality. I eventually came in to the office and met a support worker. I immediately felt at ease, and became a regular. I started attending Valour, and everything fell into place. It has supported me emotionally in ways I really cannot begin to comprehend. I am very grateful for the service and would recommend it to anybody. I attended the volunteer training, and found it very empowering, it really helped give me my confidence back. I owe everything to Valour, and to Skyline. It’s been a safe haven for me, and without it and all the friends I have made, I would be alone”.

Feedback from 1-2-1 Support …

“You have supported me to cope with living with HIV”.

“I can say Skyline has empowered me to enjoy life again”.

“I enjoy meeting the staff and they are always kind and compassionate to me”.

“The support I have and always have received here is the best”.

“You have helped me with confidence and dealing with stress”.

“I think the service and workers are great”.

“Skyline has given me back my independence and I have gained so much knowledge in the time I have been with them”.

“I have become more stable and confident about life with the support you have given me”.

“I am now confident in my life now compared to when I first contacted you. This is a major achievement for me”.

“I feel very supported as I have been very unsettled since something bad happened to me. My support worker listens to me and never judges”.

“If I have a problem I come to you and you help me sort it out”.

“I am more stable and content with my life”.

“It has been a tough journey I have moved on from the worst but I am always happier at Skyline”.

“BHA gives me a space to acknowledge I am HIV positive and a chance to meet with others”.

“Knowing I have someone to call on to help me is all the support I need. BHA gives me this”.

“As and when I have struggled with certain issues I have been able to call and have the support and the space to think and talk over things that are to personal or complex to discuss openly in my other support networks”.

“Thanks to you all for your warmth, compassion and support through the year. You have given me a safe welcoming refuge and the support you all give is life changing.”

“This group is safe and welcoming. I would recommend to anyone that PACT is good and welcoming to people whose first language is not English.”

  “I need to be at PACT to get some balance of my negative thoughts.”

“The men are my sounding board and a positive influence on me.”

“I need to hear what other men think about my situation so I don’t get depressed.”

“Sindi”, 17, began attending Together 4 Life in March 2015. She was missing clinic appointments, but said she had no problems taking her medication, and no concerns about her health. At this point however, her viral load was 44,000, indicating that her adherence must have been poor. Despite not attending clinic, Sindi continued attending T4L. At the careers session, she spoke openly about studying health and social care at college and wanting to become a midwife. She had concerns that her HIV status would prevent this happening, and was already starting to impose restrictions on herself in terms of her future success. Sindi was made aware that this career was still well within her reach, in spite of her status. She could achieve all her goals and have the career she wanted by controlling her HIV rather than the HIV controlling her. She seemed surprised that she would be able become a midwife, having previously confessed to the group how she felt she had “let herself down” in terms of adherence. After a few sessions at T4L, she began attending all her clinic appointments and having honest discussions with her clinicians about the challenges she was facing at home which had interrupted her adherence. Over time, there was a reduction in her viral load, and this has now reached the target of undetectable. Her physical health has improved considerably as a result, as has her mental health. 
In March 2016, we ran a session on treatment and adherence. A true testament to the tangible benefits of T4L, Sindi asked if she could speak at the group and share her own experiences. She wanted to show empathy to others and help them learn to manage their own regimes in a way that worked for them. She was proactive, inspiring and immensely proud of herself for turning such a corner, one that would certainly have impacted negatively on her life had she not had the support of the group at this stage.
Sindi has become a role model for the group, and it is a pleasure to see her gently encouraging the younger members to take control of their own health. She ensures every person in the group never forgets that if you stay well, HIV does not need to get in the way of you pursuing you dreams.
It’s a powerful message, made all the more powerful by the voice which is delivering it. Sindi is an asset to the group and a credit to herself. She is also the perfect example of the cycle of support T4L brings. Helping YP to learn, grow and begin to help others who are experiencing the same struggles. 

Feedback from our prostate cancer training …

‘It makes me proud to be part of this training day and see so many like-minded Black men around this table here at BHA.  ‘I wasn’t going to attend the session today as I didn’t know what to expect but I am so glad I did.  I learnt a lot and it was good to talk to men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and hear their experiences.”Thanks again for inviting me to the training.  I enjoyed myself and found it very informative.  Can’t wait for my first gig.’

Feedback from our cancer focus groups …

‘The session on mental well-being and cancer was well organised and well attended.  Something like this needs to be organised quarterly’.’ It was interesting and enjoyable – keep it up’.’ Thanks for this kind of service especially for BME.  We need more of these sessions.  The session has been brilliant!!’

Our volunteers feedback

What it’s like to be a volunteer?

To be a volunteer at BHA gives you a feeling you’re part of something big which is there solely to help people from all walks of life to better themselves & give them a helping hand when they’re in need. The work is varied and can be tuned around your skills, predilection and hours. 

I jointly volunteer delivering the Positive Self-Management Programme that supports others how to cope better living with HIV and possible other long-term health conditions.  I’ve learned a lot from BHA in terms of sexual health knowledge, the types of discrimination & other health issues people face as well as my own personal development.  They are also very understanding when I feel not well enough or have other things preventing me from coming in.

What do I get from it?

I get a warm feeling like no other when I’m helping others. It boosts my mood and self-esteem to know I’m doing something good. I learn a lot and have certainly improved my mental health by volunteering with them. I’ve especially noticed my social skills get better as well as making some new friends.  I also get a great feeling of achievement when something I’ve helped in or suggested has been implemented or goes really well.

What it’s like to be a volunteer?

As a volunteer you are part of a vital and valued part of the BHA Skyline team. There are many diverse opportunities which I have been involved with in my 8 years as a volunteer. I got involved with Skyline because it is a good cause and I know many people living with or affected by HIV.  I have been involved in admin/reception support, the young people’s group and fund-raising.  I also volunteer with the Prevention service-outreach within African communities and HIV testing.

One of the recent events which I enjoyed helping with was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT) arranged by Leeds City Council.  The Engagement Planning Group has planned activities at several events in Leeds which include Beeston Festival in June, Leeds Pride and Leeds Black Music Festival 2016 in August.

What do I get from it?

My own life has been improved since being involved with BHA as a volunteer and you get lots of experience.  I would encourage others to get involved because it helps your confidence and self-esteem, but also gives you experience if you want to go back to work.  One of my greatest achievements in my time as a volunteer is winning’ Best Volunteer’ 5 times from the LGBT Awards in Leeds.

What it’s like to be a volunteer?

After years of procrastination this is the first time I have volunteered for a charity (unless it was to blag myself a free festival ticket). I wish I had done this sooner. I feel like I’m part of a big family, one that is full of love and a lot less bickering!

What do I get from it?

I have felt truly humbled by some of the stories that I’ve heard. Being a part of BHA helps me to think about and resolve some of the issues in my life whilst using my life experience to try and help others.  It’s just as exciting meeting a young person who wants sexual health advice for the first time as it is having a discussion with someone older who needs love and support.

What it’s like to be a volunteer?

Being a volunteer with BHA is multi-faceted and offers a depth of hands-on experience into the daily machinations of how a much needed and loved charitable organisation runs, and a good insight into how diverse a field HIV is. You get to work with a committed and talented team of staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds that make it an interesting place and have a real international feel. There are opportunities to contribute to the exciting work of the prevention and support elements of the work as well as helping with the more administrative tasks that help to keep a wonderful space for service users, volunteers and staff alike. Volunteers are very much appreciated and valued and are rewarded for their contribution.

What do I get from it?

I have gained a very valuable understanding of how HIV-related work is done on the ground and at a grass-roots level. It is heartening and life-affirming to see how service users appreciate everyone’s efforts and it is very much a community.  Volunteering greatly enhances interpersonal skills because you are involved with interacting with a diverse group of people at all levels. There are opportunities here to get further training too, such as in Human Rights which has been a real eye-opener. I am very fond of BHA, and there is nowhere quite like it!

What is it like to be a volunteer?

Since 2009, I’ve been a volunteer for BHA for Equality. I manage the food distribution program called the Fareshare Project.  This project aims to lessen the struggles faced by those affected by HIV and experiencing financial hardship. My key responsibilities include distributing food, maintaining records and creating a friendly and peaceful environment for the service users. Fareshare Fridays is a wonderful opportunity for people to come together in a safe place to socialize and seek comfort and support in one another.  It’s not just about the food. It’s about the camaraderie. From time to time, I also help out in other areas. I assist the sexual health team with preparing condom packs and leaflets. I participate in setup and breakdown of large events. I also help raise HIV awareness. 

What do I get from it?

I really enjoyed all aspects of the work I do for BHA. Volunteering for BHA has given me the opportunity to build on my skills, learn new ones and meet new people.  It has given me the chance to push myself beyond my comfort zone and grow as a person. It has also helped me form lifelong friendships and support.

 I would recommend volunteering at BHA to anyone who is looking for an ‘off the beaten path’ type of volunteer work.  No day is the same. With every day and assignment given comes a new set of challenges to overcome and it feels fantastic to look back and see all that has been accomplished.

Our partners feedback

Recent feedback from key partnerships.

St Annes Community Services

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for last week’s event. I thought that it was brilliantly organised and particularly admired how it was led by service users. I’m really glad that I could attend and can now promote Skyline across St Anne’s”.

PositvePlusOne- Christian Mercer writes…

Working with BHA Leeds Skyline from start to present has been nothing short of a miracle and Positive Plus One would not be where it is today without the efforts of the whole team. I was greeted with open arms and provided with second to none eduction, advice and support from both staff and those being supported.A fantastic charity that truly help all those within its reach. If you’re looking for support.. then look no further. 

Dr.Sarah Schoeman Consultant in Sexual health and HIV

Brotherton Wing Clinic / LTHT HIV out-patient service have a very strong, productive and extremely important partnership with BHA Leeds Skyline HIV support service. BHA’s support services have been crucial in helping our service involve, inform and reassure our service users about this significant changes and in doing so have helped ensure that this move has gone as smoothly as possible for our service users. BHA Skyline support workers are present at BWC three times a week, support our BWC patient focus groups and our staff attend Skyline service user groups on a regular basis too. There is almost daily communication between our two services which enables our service users to have easy access to support services as needed. We have recently met with BHA Leeds Skyline to reflect on all the change our service has been through and to look at how we can adapt further to continue to improve our partnership for the benefit of our patient cohort. Without our strong partnership with Leeds Skyline HIV support service our HIV service at BWC would be unable to provide the level of support that our large cohort requires and would also struggle with patient engagement as Leeds Skyline provides such an important voice for our service users.

British Institute of Human Rights

Helen Wildebore writes-

“The British Institute of Human Rights is pleased to be working with BHA Leeds Skyline on our project Care and Support: A Human Rights Approach to Advocacy. The project aims to ensure people with mental health issues have increased control and autonomy over treatment decisions, and make sure they are treated with dignity and respect. Through the partnership with BHA Leeds Skyline, the project has engaged with more than 20 third sector organisations in local learning events, and empowered people using mental health services directly including BHA’s PACT Group and Women’s Group. BIHR has trained BHA Leeds Skyline staff and volunteers on human rights and we are now beginning to collect stories of how they are using human rights in their work to support people with mental health issues. We are also very grateful for the staff and volunteers for their ideas and guidance on a suite of new resources for people who use mental health services, which are available for free download at – www.bihr.org.uk “

Healthwatch Leeds

Parveen Ayub writes-

“It’s been fantastic to work with BHA Skyline, the support and advice we received when carrying out our work on access to dentistry for people with HIV was invaluable.  The input from Skyline’s service users has been instrumental in shaping our recommendations on improving dentistry services and their knowledge of people with blood borne viruses”.

Feedback on HIV awareness session provided to Leeds City Council Staff Team

‘It was useful to have the two perspectives & the opportunity to ask questions was good.’

‘Really informative session with some useful facts and figures presented.’

‘I found it very interesting and learnt a lot. It was well worthwhile attending and the two presenters were very good.’

‘Very informative, up to date and clear. Space to ask questions was helpful.’

‘Just my thanks. Their presentation was very informative.’

‘I thought it was a brilliant session.  So informative and I learnt loads.  It’s great listening to people who really know a lot about their subject matter.  It would be brilliant if all our commissioned services could have a similar session.’

3rd year medical students at Leeds School of Medicine on placement.

“Thank you ever so much for hosting me at BHA Skyline for my special project placement. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Every member of staff were immensely supportive, helpful and friendly, it really helped to make me feel welcomed. I definitely see why the service users come back to you time and time again. It was a truly memorable and invaluable learning experience, and I full appreciated all of the efforts.”