World AIDS Day Partnership: remembrance and solidarity

Gary Pargeter November 30, 2022

Reflecting the impact of HIV on our community, a vigil on World AIDS Day December 1 – has been a long held tradition in Brighton & Hove. Prior to the now well established annual gathering at New Steine Gardens, candle-lit vigils were held at various places in the city including the Old Steine, and prior to that at the AIDS Memorial Tree planted in the gardens of Brighthelm on Queens Road.

Over the years these vigils were attended by many hundreds of people, meaningful spaces to remember those who have died, commemorate lives taken too soon, stand in solidarity, for individual and collective expression of the impact of HIV on our lives.

This year the Community World AIDS Day Partnership has again been working hard to bring together the annual Candlelight Vigil and Reading of Names of people locally who have died with HIV.

The partnership was established in 2009 to plan and support the vigil taking place around Tay, the Brighton AIDS Memorial in New Steine Gardens. Many may remember the inaugural event 13 years ago, all eyes on the new memorial, a reader’s stage, swathes of red fabric dressing the railings of the gardens, and moving classical music to close.


For those of us behind the scenes, the reading of names was coordinated with absolute precision by local and notable activist Arthur Law, who sadly has since died. Since then the partnership has continued to coordinate and help resource the event held on December 1 every year.

The World AIDS Day Partnership is formed of local HIV charities and community groups along with other community stakeholders, and meets regularly on the run up to World AIDS Day. Its role is to deliver the Candlelight Vigil and Reading of Names and to also help coordinate and promote other community World AIDS Day activities happening in the city.

This year the partnership is delighted to welcome a new member, the Ledward Centre. This is particularly poignant as local LGBTQ+ leader James Ledward was a founding and active member of the partnership before his death in 2019, and a strong advocate for people living with HIV.

Working collaboratively, members of the partnership undertake a range of roles. These include the collection and guardianship of names of people who have died and are read at the vigil, arranging the use of New Steine Gardens for the event, invites to readers of the names, providing marquees and equipment, promoting and signposting the vigil and activities, managing social media, providing volunteers for the event, coordinating volunteers and stewarding the vigil. In recent years, new initiatives have also been introduced by members of the partnership, very often through volunteering their time.

These include the production of a high quality online vigil which was broadcast when Covid-19 measures meant it was not possible to gather in person, and each year hosting a popular YouTube channel and Facebook page holding messages of solidarity from a wide range of key stakeholders and supporters.

Following World AIDS Day, the partnership reconvenes to consider how things have gone, always with a view to ensure that the vigil is of the substance and quality that it deserves.

Every year the Brighton & Hove Rainbow Fund holds a gate collection to help fund certain equipment costs of staging the vigil.

Members of the World AIDS Day Partnership include Brighton AIDS Memorial Project, Brighton & Hove City Council, Frontline AIDS, Ledward Centre, Lunch Positive, Martin Fisher Foundation, More to Me Than HIV project, Peer Action, Rainbow Hub, Romany Mark Bruce, Sussex Beacon, Sussex HIV Ecumenical Chaplaincy and Terrence Higgins Trust South.

For more information on this year’s World AIDS Day Vigil and other activities, visit ‘What’s On’ HERE