The Zhoosh! Brighton Blog
Sometimes it is easy to forget how lucky we are to have so many servicers dedicated to the LGBT community. Many of the organisations are run by a dedicated group of paid workers and volunteers. As part of an ongoing project for Zhoosh, I will be visiting various LGBT groups, introducing who’s who, exploring what servicers they offer and perhaps inspire you to get involved either as a participant or volunteer.
The first organisation on my list is Terrence Higgins Trust, (Brighton).
Over the next few weeks I will be introducing you to the THT team, giving a glimpse of what this fantastic organisation has to offer in terms of support, training, and education.
Jits Patel (Admin/Reception staff.)
Originally from Lancashire, Jits moved with his partner to London and then to Brighton in 1998. Soon after moving down, Jits began volunteering for Sussex Aids Centre (S.A.C.) in Cavendish Street.
“Initially I was part of the health promotional team, I also trained as a community support worker, visiting clients in their own home, helping them with meals, emotional support etc. Jits Partel
When the centre merged with THT (Brighton) in the late 90’s, Jits took on the role of full time administrator, while continuing to work as part of the outreach support team.
Since the early days, THT has developed its servicers to meet the various needs of it diverse client groups. Like many of the full-time workers at THT, Jits’ previous experience as a volunteer has given him a real insight to the various servicers THT has to offer. So if you wish to talk to someone about your diagnoses, join one of the many HIV support groups that THT has to offer, then you could not find better hands to be in then THT’s Admin/Reception staff, Jits Patel, who will only be too pleased to make an appointment for you to find the right support at THT.
Mandy South: HIV Health Trainer. THT (Brighton).
Mandy moved down to Brighton two years ago from Essex, where her work background varied from hairdressing, to working with young people with learning difficulties, and later as a trainee midwife. However, a change in personal circumstances, led Mandy to leave her home town and start afresh in Brighton, where she volunteered for THT as a community support volunteer.
After a period of covering another worker’s role, Mandy was offerd a permanent position within the THT team. From here she took further training to become a HIV Health Trainer. So what is the role, and who can it help?
Thanks to funding from the Elton John Foundation (EJAF). Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the National Aids Manual (NAM) have devised a new role of HIV Health Trainer, to complement the servicers THT already offer throughout England Scotland and Wales, with Mandy South leading the post of HIV Health Trainer for their THT office in Brighton.
Part of my role is to help people who find it difficult to adhere to medical regimes for what ever reason, be it due to relationship difficulties, drug use, or marginalised background. The main aim is for me to enable people living with HIV to manage their condition and get on with their lives.
Mandy South: THT Health Trainer THT Brighton
After the initial contact with the service user and an assessment program of needs have been discussed, the THT Health Trainer will visit the service user were they most feel comfortable. For example, an appointment can be arranged to meet at their home, in town, at a coffee shop or at the THT office at 61 Ship Street, Brighton. As part of the THT Health Trainer service, their role is to offer Health Training support, where the client’s emotional and practical needs are identified and a plan of action is proposed. These may included accompany their client to appointments at the local HIV clinic The Lawson Unit, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Eastern Road, Brighton.
“Many clients find it beneficial to have someone sit with them while the nurse or doctor discusses treatment with them. Afterwards we can sit down and go through over important issues like the importance to adherence to medical regimes, managing side effects, diet and nutrition. Sometimes clients like to have someone to talk to about how they feel.”
Mandy South: HIV Health Trainer
Other servicers included help with benefit forms, applying for grants, emergency funds, exploring courses on the internet, or counselling. From here the service user can then be referred to other THT servicers appropriate to their needs.
For those newly diagnosed, it can feel like feel walking in a minefield of emotions as they try to make sense of their diagnoses. The role THT Health Trainer involves working with service users who may feel isolated or confused for whatever reason and to reassure them that they are not alone. With an extensive knowledge of experience in the field of HIV, the THT Health Trainer enables their client to take control of their diagnoses and most importantly their lives.
If you feel you could benefit from seeing Mandy to discuss your HIV needs, then call to make an appointment at THT on 01273-764200. Mandy South, Brighton’s HIV Health Trainer, will endeavour to contact you within 48 hours. A further appointment will be made to meet face to face within a seven day period.