‘It’s community – not clinical’: Gary Pargeter reflects on 13 years of local HIV charity Lunch Positive

November 30, 2022

HIV charity Lunch Positive has now been running for 13 years, building upon support work carried out by the former Open Door Project that was established in the 1980s.

Lunch Positive is founded, led and has services delivered by people living with HIV. Through its unique range of projects and services it reaches and involves extraordinary numbers of people. Over recent years the work delivered by Lunch Positive has grown in scope and reach, including the well-established drop in and lunch club, now on two floors with a quiet space; specialist advice giving through linking in with a range of partner organisations; food bank and food deliveries to people who are at home and vulnerable (35,000 meals during Covid!); HIV befriending and buddying scheme; over 50s supper & peer support group; social and peer support groups; women’s group; wellbeing and mental health projects; and an accessible volunteering programme aptly called Open Door Volunteering.

Lunch Positive volunteers

Through the volunteering programme the charity involves and supports people living with HIV in every aspect of its work. It seeks to ensure that everyone, regardless of circumstances and life challenges is able to become involved in volunteering to help others. For people using the projects and services at Lunch Positive, the consistent feedback is that there’s nothing else like it, valuing that ‘it’s community – not clinical’ and importantly that it helps support needs that are not met elsewhere.

Awarded in June this year, the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is highly competitive and involves an independent panel looking in detail and depth at how a charity operates, consideration of nominations and testimonials from people who know and use the charity, talking with volunteers, and interviews with staff.

The moving citation for Lunch Positive included the unique nature and reach of its work, the fact that the charity has been built upon volunteering, and the quality and impact of its work. Lunch Positive is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups in the UK to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

This reminds us of all the ways in which fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them. Lunch Positive is a much loved and highly valued charity, with strong values. It works cooperatively and closely with other organisations and has an impactful relationship with local HIV nursing teams.

Creative, innovative and agile, the charity always seeks to help in ways that have the most timely and meaningful impact. The amazing volunteer team is essential to this.

Gary Pargeter, Director at Lunch Positive, says: “We’re overjoyed that Lunch Positive has received this award for voluntary service. Everything we undertake is built upon the energy, contributions and kindness of volunteers. Our volunteers are shining examples of what great things can be achieved by and for a community, and what impact this can have.

“Volunteering to support people with HIV is a long held tradition, now going back 40 years since HIV was first identified. We are extremely proud to continue that tradition, meeting the needs of people living with HIV today which are still often complex.

“It is a genuine team effort, and it is so fitting for this Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to recognise the high quality of work achieved by our volunteers, the trust this engenders in the HIV community, and the impact it has for people using our projects. Our volunteers help hundreds of people each year. Volunteering is a wonderful thing, our volunteers are amazing people and so rightly deserve this brilliant recognition!”

Check out Lunch Positive HERE