The Science Museum in London has over 300,000 items, attracts 3.3 million visitors every year and on the 16 May it played host to the GSK IMPACT Awards. The awards are a national programme that recognise and reward the best small and medium sized charities that are doing excellent work to improve people’s health and wellbeing in communities across the UK.
Positive Life were there to receive an award for our work supporting those living with and affected by HIV in Northern Ireland. We were awarded for our work combatting stigma and educating the public and working closely with the Government to improve services for people with HIV. The award is testament to the incredible work of our staff and volunteers. There is not a day goes by that I am not absolutely blown away by the commitment, kindness and hard work of the staff and volunteers here at Positive Life.
The ceremony itself was beautiful and great fun, but even more important was the chance to take part in the development programme provided by The Kings Fund. One of the UK’s biggest health think tanks, the knowledge and guidance they provided over the course of three days was incredible. It was an amazing experience to be able to work with some really brilliant minds on how to develop Positive Life and make us better at what we do.
We were the only Northern Irish charity who received an award this year, but there were charities from all over the UK who were there with us. It was a wonderful experience to listen, learn and share our own experiences of working to improve people’s health and wellbeing. It’s important to always remember that Positive Life, just like every other charity, doesn’t operate in a vacuum and it’s always great to get a chance to discuss commons challenges and opportunities with other organisations.
It’s an honour to receive an award, especially one as prestigious as a GSK IMPACT award, but what I was really happy about was the funding and the development support we won from The Kings Fund. Why? Because those are the things that let us do more and do what we do better. It is great to be recognised for what we’re doing well, but what’s even better is being given the tools and the opportunity to help us help more people.
The challenges facing those affected by HIV in Northern Ireland are huge. While it’s important to take a moment and give ourselves a quick pat on the back, we’re excited to be rolling up our sleeves and get back to the task in hand.
If you want proof of that ethos look no further than our Chair, Dawn Purvis. The very next morning after the awards ceremony, in the taxi on the way to the airport she had a long conversation with the taxi driver about the importance of open and honest communication in breaking down the stigma against those living with HIV, especially in Northern Ireland.