Every week at Body & Soul, a different staff member runs a “Skills and Development” session with our team of interns. The aim is to expose our interns to as wide a range of expertise as possible, so that they can learn and ask questions about all of the elements, skills and considerations that go into the running of a small charity.
The blog below was written by our current Communications Intern Lavy after this week’s session.
“To enhance internships at Body & Soul, the volunteer interns meet a different member of staff every Monday to share with and learn from the activities they are involved with and the challenges they face in their role. It is a wonderful opportunity to understand where your work stands in relation to others in within Body & Soul.
This week we met Emma Colyer, Body & Soul’s founder and director. Having been warned in advance that Emma would conduct the meeting as a Q & A, we soon realized when we met that we were all going to go with the flow!
Emma shared with us the realities of the UK HIV epidemic when she began working in the sector in 1994-95, the gravity of the situation – the regular illnesses and deaths and the resulting devastating impact on members taking precedence over anything else.
A lot has changed for the better since then – immigration patterns, testing facilities and changes in welfare policy. Disturbingly, one thing we discussed that has changed only marginally is attitudes towards HIV. But ‘little changes can have big impacts”, she said.
What has remained steady in all these years is the ultimate vision and purpose of Body & Soul. That of supporting people living with HIV to regain emotional stability and live their lives more successfully, transforming the impact of HIV in their lives. In an ideal world, provision of clinical services to people living with HIV would work harmoniously with the provision of psycho-social support and the third-sector would be seen as able partners to provide that. Sadly, that is not always the case, though Emma discussed how she was hopeful that there is a move towards that.
So, despite the challenge of securing sustained funding and investment, Emma conveyed that she was happy that stepping into Body & Soul’s 18th year, she could proudly say that their direction has remained steady and that they had remained fluid and open to ideas.
And I think I speak for all the interns when I say that we all came away marveling at how unassuming and self-effacing Emma was and how happy I am with the opportunity of being associated with Body & Soul. And for that to happen on what has been widely touted as ‘Blue Monday’, what perfect timing!!
This session with Emma echoes all the Monday morning meetings where we interns not only get an idea of the history and ethos of the Body & Soul, but also how it is maintained through their services, the challenges they face and sometimes, even help to resolve mundane issues (for some) on how to answer the phone! :-)”