Today is World AIDS day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. FoodCycle LSE is partnered with the HIV charity The Food Chain, and in this post Anna Ellis explains what that partnerships means for their guests, and how FoodCycle LSE are supporting people living with HIV.
One of the great things about FoodCycle is the freedom we have as volunteers to create unique community spaces, adaptable to the needs of a whole variety of different guests. Each FoodCycle project is different, with guests coming from all walks of life, attracted to our shared meals for a whole host of different reasons. FoodCycle LSE is our longest running hub, running sessions every Sunday at The Food Chain near Kings Cross.
The Food Chain has been ‘feeding the fight against HIV’ since 1988, providing a wide range of nutritional as well as emotional support with their highly effective ‘eating together’ and ‘eating positively’ sessions. FoodCycle LSE have been partnered with The Food Chain since July 2014 as a follow-up service for their existing users. As a Hub we work very closely with The Food Chain, making sure we uphold their excellent standards while benefiting from the additional training they provide our volunteers.
The Food Chain began at a time before effective HIV treatment was available, meaning good nutrition was a vital part of managing the effects of HIV. Although medical advances have provided far more effective treatments for HIV and AIDS in recent years, diet management still remains key to helping support the immune system and maintaining a healthy body mass index.
Service users are referred to The Food Chain via their GP and usually take part in a 12-week programme twice weekly. The sessions encompass basic cooking skills and nutritional advice, but also gives participants the opportunity to meet new people and form lasting friendships. The Food Chain puts an emphasis on the positive benefits of eating together and both during and after their time on the programme, guests are invited to our Sunday meal with FoodCycle LSE. A real community atmosphere has been created at The Food Chain and FoodCycle LSE.
The Sunday FoodCycle session allows members of The Food Chain’s community to carry on accessing a healthy, hot meal even after their specific course has finished. Our FoodCycle meals mean that friendships can be maintained, and a community built. We tend to see a lot of familiar faces at our sessions and get to know a loyal group of veterans well. In addition to our partnership with The Food Chain, we invite anyone living with HIV in London to share a meal with us, and encourage them to bring along their friends or family too. We know that our healthy and delicious meals are beneficial to those living with HIV and AIDS, especially those struggling to feed themselves.
Our work seems particularly relevant this week which marks the 27th anniversary of World AIDS Day, which aims to spread awareness of HIV and AIDS, dispel unhelpful myths and support those living with the illness. We invite everyone to extend their support to this invaluable cause, with over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK, it is vital that sufficient education and support is available to those in need.
To discover more about FoodCycle LSE and how you can volunteer with us, check out our Hub Profile, sign up via the MyFoodCycle page or look us up on Facebook.!