“Today I accepted my MBE from Prince Charles, after being named in last year’s Diamond Jubilee Honours list. Receiving this award, I was filled with real pride and happiness, not just for the recognition of my commitment to people living with HIV in the UK, but also for the hard work, tenacity, tireless dedication, and passion of everyone who has been involved with the organisation.
2012 was an incredible year for Body & Soul. In addition to today, we’re all proud and humbled to be one of only 60 organisations to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award, which highlights the instrumental role of volunteers in our organisation. The fact that we were recognised with the same award at the last Jubilee is a testament to the commitment of our amazing volunteers.
While awards such as these are fantastic recognitions of the clear impact we’re having on the lives of so many people, they are also a reminder of just how important our work is and how much more we need to do.
At a time when youth unemployment is at an all-time high, our crucial national health system is massively destabilized by restructuring, and benefit reforms threaten the very safety net that should be protecting society’s most vulnerable, organisations like Body & Soul are more necessary than ever. This is especially true given our commitment to ensure that individuals living with chronic, stigmatised conditions like HIV have an equal voice in society.
We must keep fighting. Fighting to bring empathy back in our society, fighting for the rights of the most marginalised and fighting to ensure that we continue to be a source of love and empathy, values which are too easily lost these days.
Awards like today’s are a reminder that each one of us can make a difference and that collectively that difference will be immeasurable. At Body & Soul, we’ve seen that the positive impact we have on our 4000+ members has a ripple effect in their families, schools, and communities, an impact that we’ve recently quantified through work with the New Economics Foundation (stay tuned!).
Today is the day that I received my MBE, but it is also the day that I as an individual and Body & Soul as an organisation and a community will once again pledge our commitment to dedicating ourselves to changing the world we live in for the better.
We hope you’ll join us. 2012 was incredible, but together we will make 2013 even better.
Thank you to everyone for today, I am the sum of all of you and this recognition is for you all.”