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Raks Patel

Raks Patel

Raks Patel

I volunteer on THT Direct. Terrence Higgins Trust’s national HIV and sexual health helpline, as a helpline advisor.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 8pm, and calls are free and confidential. Most calls relate to HIV - prevention, transmission, testing, treatment, and living with HIV. Shifts are two or three hours and you can volunteer for morning, afternoon or evening shifts.

I started volunteering because I was out of work at the time, I wanted to help others and do something positive and constructive with my time, and I wanted to be part of a fun team and learn new skills.

I also wanted to volunteer for the Trust because it has a high profile and a very good reputation; I wanted to broaden and deepen my knowledge on HIV; and I wanted to continue my work with LGBT communities.

The best part of being a volunteer for THT is being part of a fantastic team, which in THT Direct comprises of staff and volunteers, and doing something you know will make a real difference to people’s lives.

We received specific training for our THT Direct role. We learned about HIV, living with HIV, STIs and how to handle callers. The training was intense but it was delivered in a relaxed, informal and fun way.

Volunteering on THT Direct is very rewarding because you are engaging with the caller on a one-to-one basis, and sometimes you can make a real difference – explaining to someone newly diagnosed with HIV what living with HIV actually means in today’s world and addressing their particular fears, anxieties and concerns; and speaking to a mother about how she can best support her son living with HIV.

I started volunteering for THT Direct in November 2013 and I have been doing one shift a week ever since. I now have a full time job with Terrence Higgins Trust but I still volunteer once a week on THT Direct because it is a way I can genuinely help people at a time when they most need it.

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