Volunteering with HIV Scotland

In a short blog to mark Volunteers Week 2017 Reece shares his experience of volunteering with HIV Scotland.

The past few months I have spent volunteering at HIV Scotland have definitely improved both my work and personal skills. I originally applied for the role to audit the Positive Persons’ Manifestos produced by HIV Scotland each year because as a gay man I am part of the at-risk community. As well as this, some of my friends are positive, so I find that the work that HIV Scotland does is not only important for Scotland as a whole but also for my own personal communities.

Having been aware of LGBT+ issues surrounding HIV, I believed my HIV knowledge was up-to-date and accurate. However, from working on my project and through the help of the staff here, my knowledge on contemporary HIV issues has improved. Everyone at HIV Scotland has been extremely supportive in giving me help to understand policies that have been achieved to help people living with HIV in Scotland, Originally, I only knew how HIV affected gay men, but volunteering at HIV Scotland has allowed me to learn how other communities are affected too. This information has always been given to me in a supportive and helpful manner, and has allowed me to learn from my mistakes.

Beyond this, I have been made to feel very welcome to the office. Not only are the other workers friendly and helpful in supporting me with my project, I am included in meetings regularly which allows me to look beyond the one project and learn about the other work that is going on within HIV Scotland.

Volunteering at HIV Scotland has also allowed me to improve my academic skills. As a student at the University of Edinburgh, this project means I have had a chance to practice my academic writing in a real-world environment, with feedback on how to improve from the other staff. As well as this, my project entails presenting the work I have done to a large audience, which is extremely important in refining my presenting skills which I have only ever been able to practice in a small, University scale. HIV Scotland have also let me work independently and use my own initiative with this project, always making sure that my voice is heard in regard to the direction this work goes in. This sort of involvement makes me feel part of the team and valuable to the work that is going on. I feel well supported and listened to, which I believe is key to producing the important work that everyone does within HIV Scotland.

If you are interested in volunteering with HIV Scotland visit the 'Get Involved' section of the website.