Making a difference with Positive Directions
ACSA’s HIV+ buddy program Positive Directions has received more funding, and project manager Mahamati says she is looking for a fresh influx of volunteers.
“This has made such a difference to my life” said Peter. “I don’t know how it really happened but I had got myself quite isolated over the years. I had a lot of health issues and didn’t feel well enough to go out and then some of my friends moved away. Gradually I lost my motivation and felt quite cut off. My RDNS nurse suggested this program and it really has helped me get out of a rut.”
Funded by MAC cosmetics, Positive Directions links volunteers with HIV+ people who have become socially isolated for a variety of reasons. Some have lost friends to AIDS, and have had bouts of illness which prevented them socialising much. We all know that it is easy to feel down when there is not much to look forward to.
Positive Directions project offers training and ongoing support to suitable volunteers who are linked up with a HIV+ person in the programme. Care is taken when matching up volunteers and HIV+ people in the program and takes gender preference and geographical location into account. Volunteers offer a few hours a fortnight to take their “buddy” out to lunch, go for a drive, to see a movie or anything else that is mutually agreeable. It is not a dating service or a home help service; the aim is primarily to provide a friendly supportive presence in a social context. Expenses are covered for the volunteer and buddy and over time some good connections have formed. One volunteer recently reported that on his visits he was bringing his buddy up to speed with technology and in turn was learning how to grow vegetables himself.
A new training course will be held in February and volunteers who have good interpersonal skills, who are reliable and able to respect confidentiality are sought.
In the past volunteers have come from many walks of life and cover a wide age range; what they all have in common is a desire to make a difference in our community. So if your New Year’s resolution was to get involved in some voluntary work and help others, please get in contact.
Mahamati is the Volunteer Co-ordinator for the AIDS Council of South Australia.