Beyond Boundaries is Body & Soul’s remote peer support service, providing over the phone and text support to our members who are unable to attend our centre due to severe physical or mental illness, location, or other commitments which prevent them attending regularly. In today’s blog, we look at David’s* story and how Beyond Boundaries has helped him since he moved to the UK in 2016.
*All names have been changed.
David was diagnosed HIV positive in December 2016, and joined Body & Soul in the following March. He is from Somalia, and came to the UK as an EU National. David’s presenting needs on registration were that he was unemployed, experiencing a great deal of pain due to an array of medical issues additional to his HIV status, and was having mobility difficulties. David was also struggling emotionally at the prospect of not being able to continue his craft as a tailor. Having no job, and no family in the UK caused David to feel extremely isolated.
We immediately referred to David to our Beyond Boundaries programme, which he was engaged with ever since. Within his first support call through Beyond Boundaries, David told his mentor “I don’t like talking to people… I used to be charming but now I don’t know what to say to people”. Just three months later David was observed to be in an improved state of mind and expressed his appreciation for the support provided at Body & Soul particularly given how hard it is to talk to friends and family about HIV, commenting to his mentor that “you are trained to do this, it is fantastic what you do.”
From these initial phone conversations, David has found the confidence to attend service nights, engaging with health and wellbeing workshops, and meeting with other members. David has enjoyed the workshops, saying he finds them interesting and that the food served is “perfect”. We have begun to address David’s pain management, by offering reflexology and acupuncture appointments, which David has found helpful on both an emotional and physical level. His family are unaware of David’s HIV status which leaves him feeling even more isolated and he fears being stigmatised by others for being HIV positive. Additionally, our holistic approach has meant our casework team are supporting David by providing him with a food bank referral, and help applying for a Freedom pass and PiP.
All staff and volunteers have noticed a positive improvement in David’s social health and how he has begun to build a support network of peers at Body & Soul. We will continue to support David through Beyond Boundaries as well as our in-house services, helping him to identify and breakdown barriers to socialising and accessing practical support.