HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust is launching a new set of services in Bristol for older people living with HIV, the fastest-growing group of people with the condition in the UK.
Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the charity’s Health, Wealth and Happiness project aims to improve the emotional, financial and physical wellbeing of people living with HIV who are aged 50 and over. Studies have shown that people in this group are more likely to be financially disadvantaged and twice as likely to experience other long-term health problems compared to others their age without HIV. As a result, many have serious concerns about the future.
Following an initial assessment, participants in the project can choose to be paired with a mentor of a similar age, who they can meet for one-to-one support. They will also be invited to a series of groups and workshops, which will offer guidance in areas such as managing finances, expanding social networks, and learning new skills such as IT and social media. For more complex financial issues – including welfare benefits, housing and employment, and debt advice – the project also offers a dedicated worker who can provide guidance and undertake casework.
In Bristol, project workers will build links with local health and social care organisations, offering staff training on HIV to improve their understanding of the condition and ensure existing services are prepared to meet increasing need. Those involved in the project, including older people living with HIV, will also meet with MPs and decision-makers to raise their awareness and understanding of the issue, and help local services better address the needs of this group.
Health, Wealth and Happiness is a free and confidential service, open to anyone in Bristol who is living with HIV and aged over 50. Terrence Higgins Trust is also calling on older people in the city (both HIV-positive and HIV-negative) to volunteer as mentors or group facilitators for the project. These roles are open to anyone aged 50 and above, and full training will be provided.
Jackie Redding, Service Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “With effective drug treatments routinely keeping people with HIV alive into later life, the over-50s are the fastest-growing group of people with the condition in this country. At the same time, we know this group can experience high levels of uncertainty about the future, and require substantially more support than their peers.
“We are hugely excited about this project, which is a big step forward in expanding the local support on offer to older people with HIV. If you think you could benefit from the project, know someone who might, or if you’d like to come on board as a volunteer, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.”
Health, Wealth and Happiness is an England-wide project, with services centred in five cities: London, Brighton, Manchester, Bristol and Coventry. For more information, or to sign up, please call (0117) 955 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.