I volunteer at HIV/STI testing clinics in Scotland
I started volunteering with Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland after bumping into Kevin Ditcham, a health promotion specialist who works there, on Twitter.
I had toyed with the idea of volunteering before, but never seriously thought I would. In 1991 I encountered the charity while living in London, when a friend of mine, a member of the Pink Singers, invited me to a gig they were doing at the London Lighthouse.
What I discovered was a beautiful oasis of calm and caring for men at the end of their lives, and it definitely left a mark. Years later, I decided to get involved and give something back after a lifetime in IT and banking.
I volunteer whenever I can, mainly for HIV/STI testing clinics for Men Only Tayside (MOT) on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Dundee, and sometimes Tuesdays in Perth. It’s a great way to feel that I’m involved in providing an essential service to the community, as well as helping to end the stigma around HIV and sexuality - especially in more rural areas.
As a volunteer I have also taken part in a number of college and university fresher fayres around Tayside. They're hard work but tremendous fun, and I got to meet lots of great people, not least my permanent colleagues at Terrence Higgins Trust.
The opportunity to volunteer has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone and I’m loving it. It has challenged me but also provided me with a skillset I never thought I’d have, working with people in a very different way – talking about sex and sexual health. It’s because of all this that I love what I do and I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to give it a go.
For years in a corporate environment I worked hard to get rid of bullying and stigma, and with the knowledge I’m building up as a volunteer I’m considering switching careers to something far more worthwhile as I see how hard the third sector can be.
Apply to volunteer