On World AIDS Day 2023, four leading figures from two major HIV charities were awarded the Freedom of the City of London, in recognition of their outstanding work to support people and communities living with HIV.
The Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, Richard Angell, was joined at Guildhall by the charity’s Director of Communications and HIV Services, Dominic Edwardes, and its National Advice Supervisor, Barbara Tinubu.
The East London-based Positive East charity, which was established in 1991, was represented by its Executive Director, Mark Santos.
City of London Corporation Policy Chairman, Chris Hayward, said: ‘Tremendous work has been done over the last three decades in the fight against HIV/AIDS, in terms of early detection, treatment, prevention, service provision, and reducing the stigma of living with the virus.
‘Terrence Higgins Trust and Positive East must be commended for their sterling work in supporting people and communities, and it is due to the commitment, hard work, and campaigning zeal by people like Richard, Dominic, Barbara and Mark that our communities feel so supported, and that significant progress and achievements have been made.’
City of London Corporation Councillor, Ben Murphy said: ‘The ancient award of the Freedom of the City of London remains relevant today when it is used to pay tribute to individuals who go the extra mile and make a tangible difference to people’s lives.
‘This could not be more true of Richard, Barbara, Dominic and Mark, and today, we are proud to recognise their work at Terrence Higgins Trust and Positive East, and to admit them into the Freedom at Guildhall.
‘The City of London Corporation is committed to the Government's target of no new cases of HIV by 2030 and is working with partners to increase HIV testing, improve access to prevention, including PrEP and condoms, as well as making it even easier for people who are newly diagnosed to access treatment.
City of London Corporation Councillor, Mary Durcan, said: ‘I am delighted to join the chorus of praise for these two charities’ outstanding work over the years, and I was very pleased indeed to support their nominations for the Freedom.
‘The City’s award today is our way of congratulating them on their achievements and giving them some well-earned recognition.’
Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, Richard Angell, said: ‘It’s an honour to be receiving the Freedom of the City of London. I’d like to dedicate this special award to the millions sadly lost to HIV since the start of the epidemic and those whose shoulders we stand on.
‘The progress that we’ve made would not have been possible without their efforts and sacrifices, and we will do everything that we can to end new HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030, because we owe it to them.’
Director of Communications and HIV Services at Terrence Higgins Trust, Dominic Edwardes, said: ‘I am proud to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. It’s remarkable how much progress we’ve made around HIV – today we’re working to end new HIV cases in the UK by 2030, something that would have been unimaginable when I started working for Terrence Higgins Trust in 1999. This is an opportunity we cannot let pass.’
National Advice Supervisor at Terrence Higgins Trust, Barbara Tinubu, said: ‘It’s a privilege to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. From working with London Lighthouse in 1999, to Terrence Higgins Trust today, I’m proud to have been there for people living and affected by HIV in the city for over two decades and remain dedicated to ensuring they get the support they need.’
Executive Director of Positive East, Mark Santos, said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to be receiving the Freedom of the City of London. I see it as a recognition of the work of Positive East for over 30 years, addressing the HIV needs of City and East London residents.
‘It is a recognition of the City of London’s continued commitment to being in solidarity with people living with HIV, challenging HIV stigma and working towards ending new transmissions of HIV.’
One of the City of London’s ancient traditions, the Freedom is believed to have begun in 1237 and enabled recipients to carry out their trade.
As well as being nominated for, or applying for, the Freedom, it is also offered by the City of London Corporation to individuals as a way of paying tribute to their outstanding contribution to London or public life, or to celebrate a very significant achievement.
Recent high-profile recipients include the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty; former England football captain and former Tottenham Hotspur striker, Harry Kane; Deputy Governor for Financial Stability at the Bank of England, Sir Jon Cunliffe; and theatrical impresario, Sir Cameron Mackintosh.