This blog comes from B&S Volunteer Simone.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a volunteer as, ‘a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task’.
Now, I may have been only one of one hundred volunteers at Body & Soul’s ‘Inspire Day’ 2014, last week and a new addition to the team at that. I can assure you however that I don’t speak only for myself when I say that the Oxford Dictionary’s definition strongly underestimates the impact a volunteer can have on many hearts.
This year’s Inspire Day was intended to aid us in our own development as volunteers, by equipping us with a skill set that we could use at Body & Soul, and indeed in everyday life. I could sum up the day in terms of opening speeches, informative seminars, workshops, debates, and an amazing ‘We Are Family’ acoustic remix by Dom and Andrea to finish – let’s face it, a bit of cheese to get us going was inevitable! But that wouldn’t come close to doing the day justice; I couldn’t possibly have imagined just how inspirational the day would be.
Listening to real-life stories from members living with or affected by HIV helped me (and I’m sure others) understand the HIV through a different lens. Stories of personal struggles against a positive diagnosis, health and medication and perhaps most importantly, society, gave an insight into the challenges surrounding a positive HIV diagnosis. What became clear was that underlying all of these struggles, is a fight against stigma. It is this stigma which I personally feel is my reason for being at Body & Soul.
I learnt that all it takes is one person; one person to stand up, make a change and inspire others to follow. That’s what I believe a hundred people learnt last week. It was clear that everyone there shared a common ground – the same ground that makes Body & Soul such a special place for so many: respect and love for one another. And hope.
Most of all, the day reminded us all of why we donate our time to Body & Soul: To help create a world free of stigma and prejudice where everyone can have equal access to treatment, support and love.