In 2019, our volunteers donated over 26,500 hours to help us support people living with HIV and promote better sexual health for all. We rely on these amazing volunteers – without them we couldn't reach so many people who desperately need our services.
To mark Volunteers' Week, we've rounded up some of latest volunteer stories and taken a look at exactly where the time goes.
We also see how we've adapted to the challenges of COVID-19 and lockdown, including expanding our THT Direct service.
Florence was a researcher on our ground-breaking Invisible No Longer report, which shone a light on the experiences of women living with HIV. Florence is also one of our Positive Voices speakers. They go into schools, businesses and community groups to share their story, helping to break down stigma by educating and myth-busting.
‘My experience of volunteering has been amazing. I've developed my skills at public speaking and have massively increased my confidence. I can stand in front of a crowd and enjoy it now when I tell my story. I love talking at schools – I have a 20-year-old son and giving the kids the message about sexual health, using condoms and U=U is so important.
'As a person living with HIV volunteering with Terrence Higgins Trust, you'll work with others who are HIV positive who are confident and it helps you. There's a big community of people that will understand what you are going through. Your voice is important, especially the black and ethnic minorities. It's so rewarding, you will make friends, feel less isolated and your self-esteem will improve.
‘Right now, I’m studying to be a social worker and I wouldn't have gotten on the course without the experience I have got volunteering with Terrence Higgins Trust.’
Our counselling volunteers
A huge thank you to our counselling volunteers who give their time for free to help those in need. Our therapies teams in London and Brighton, made up of volunteers and employees, have delivered counselling services to more than 200 people over the past year.
The impact of COVID-19 has seen an increase in the need for counselling, so we've been focusing on phone and online counselling. We're adapting with the times and thank everyone involved for adapting with us.
Our Youth Counselling team has also taken on 62 clients in London over the last year.
Neil has been volunteering with us for 15 years. From fundraising to answering phone calls to now supporting people get tested for HIV, he’s made a huge impact to raise awareness about HIV among other gay men and other communities impacted by HIV.
‘In my day job, I’m very busy as a hospitality manager. Volunteering with Terrence Higgins Trust gives me time away from day-to-day life and allows me to concentrate on something else.
‘It took me some time before I wanted to train as an assistant practitioner that would mean I could administer an HIV test. I helped on reception in the Cardiff office for a number of years and I was offered the chance to train as a practitioner. I was a little scared about the possibility of giving someone a positive HIV result.
'The clinical nurse reassured me and explained that giving a positive result is actually a positive action. It allows people to live longer and be healthy. I used to worry that it was a bad thing, but it's not a bad thing. I’m helping to give people the tools to live a healthy life – that feels amazing!
‘I now have the skills to train other people to carry out HIV tests and help others take control of their sexual heath. My knowledge on HIV has now completely changed.'
Our outreach volunteers
Last year, our Brighton and Hove outreach volunteers and health promotion staff distributed an amazing total of 97,340 condom packs and lube, an average of 1,871 packages a week!
Our newly-established Glasgow Outreach Team volunteers delivered around 300 hours of community outreach work in LGBT+ venues and education settings, reaching at least 2,000 people between August 2019 and March 2020.
'When I retired I started to think about volunteering and things that I really care about. I went to a volunteer evening to learn about the roles. With my communications skills, I was recommended to apply for THT Direct, so I went for it! I completed all the training and loved it so much I wanted to get more involved with the charity. My volunteer manager suggested I apply for the Hardship Fund volunteer role and now I do both side by side!
'The team has fully supported me and have really built my confidence – always reassuring me that I don’t need to know everything and I can always ask for help or more information. The other volunteers are amazing – they are people I would never have met if I wasn't volunteering. It's a real community and they really make me laugh as well!
'During lockdown, I’m really missing the team I usually spend so much time working alongside, but I know it’s not forever. I am working on the Hardship Fund from home but cannot wait to get back to volunteering with THT Direct again and continue helping to make a real difference to people living with HIV.
'My top advice for anyone thinking about volunteering with Terrence Higgins Trust: just go for it!'
More of our volunteers
We've loads of other volunteers doing a wide variety of work across the UK.
Our Scotland testing clinic volunteers have supported over 1,000 users to get tested in a community-based setting in the past year. And so far 50 service users have given over 300 hours of their time and experience to work with our user involvement team in London, helping to design our future services and projects, and growing user involvement across the charity.
How to volunteer
The COVID-19 lockdown means that most of our face-to-face volunteering has been paused and many roles have been adapted to work online/from people’s homes, including counselling, mentoring and the Hardship Fund.
However, we've developed a number of virtual volunteering opportunities, including Fundraising Ambassadors.
We've also expanded our THT Direct service so that it now opens seven days a week.
To find out what kind of volunteering you can do, both during lockdown and once volunteering fully resumes, read our main volunteering page.