A charity providing HIV support, information and training across Merseyside has won a prestigious national award.
Sahir House has beaten more than 400 organisations from all over the UK to be one of the 10 winners of the 2017 GSK IMPACT Awards, a national award that recognises excellence in charities improving health and wellbeing in their communities. The charity will receive £30,000 in funding as part of its prize, as well as expert support and development from The King’s Fund.
Established in 1985 and based in Liverpool city centre, Sahir House runs a range of services including advocacy, advice on housing and welfare benefits, and counselling and psychotherapy for those living with, affected by or at risk of HIV. It also delivers training to schools, community groups, public bodies and companies to help improve understanding of HIV.
The charity has shown how it successfully adapts its approach so that it keeps meeting the changing health and wellbeing needs of people living with HIV. Following concerns expressed by older people living with HIV that they may encounter discrimination if they moved into a care home, Sahir House developed a specialist training course that has been delivered to staff in 38 residential and nursing homes.
Sahir House proactively targets people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, working successfully with local BME community groups. It also provides support to asylum seekers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – the only organisation doing this in the area.
There are more people living with HIV in the UK than ever before. More than 100,000 people live with the condition and 88,769 access HIV care services – a number that has doubled over the past decade. The life expectancy of people living with HIV has improved dramatically, although the condition can have a severe impact on physical and mental health.
There also remain many misunderstandings about HIV, with a survey suggesting only 45 per cent of the public know how HIV is transmitted. Poor knowledge of HIV increases the risk of transmission and can also feed into prejudice and stigma.
Lisa Weaks, Head of Third Sector at The King’s Fund, said: ‘Sahir House is a dynamic charity that shapes its services around the changing needs of people living with HIV in Merseyside. Through its innovative projects and commitment to reaching the people that most need its support, it moves into spaces where no one else is working.
‘Sahir House does fantastic work in raising awareness of HIV issues and improving public understanding of the condition. This is so important both for combatting stigma and for helping to reduce HIV transmission.’
Tommy McIlravey, Chief Executive of Sahir House, said: ‘Winning a GSK IMPACT Award is a massive accolade for everyone involved in Sahir House. This award programme is unique in recognising the work of smaller charities having a large impact on community health and wellbeing.
‘We couldn’t achieve all that we do without our dedicated volunteers, supporters, and staff – this is such a wonderful boost to all of them.’
Developing leaders in the charity sector is an important aim of the GSK IMPACT Awards programme, which has now been running for 20 years, and Sahir House will have access to training and leadership development tailored to its needs. It will also be invited to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Network, a national network of more than 70 award-winning health and wellbeing charities working together to develop their leaders, find new ways of working and support others.
Sahir House will receive its prize at a ceremony held at the Science Museum in London on Thursday 18 May, along with nine other GSK IMPACT Award winners.
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