NOTTINGHAM’S ONLY INDEPENDENT
VOLUNTEER RUN HIV PEER SUPPORT GROUP
REGISTERED CHARITY 1129416
Registered Charity 1129416
Baseline is a nationwide community magazine for people living with or affected by HIV & Hepatitis. Tagadere are very proud to have a feature included in the Spring 2015 issue. Read on…
Resistance is futile…or is it?
The independent survival of Tagadere.
Tagadere is Nottingham’s only independent user led, volunteer run HIV peer support group. Our inclusive ethos is exemplified in our logo which shows four hands of different colours holding each other in perpetual support.
Nottingham had been off Terrence Higgins Trust’s radar until around 2007. Prior to that, we had no strong local voluntary HIV support group and mainly only statutory support services for people living with HIV in the form of a specialist social worker, a ‘buddy’ scheme, welfare rights worker and HIV specialist nurse.
Social Services ran a weekly drop in to enable people with HIV to obtain peer support and access advice from professionals. At that time we had a small user-
At around the same period a large-
We don’t know how, they just appeared; possibly setting up their first office as the advance reconnaissance party. A comment from an HIV positive person who was somewhat of a ‘Trekkie’ further compounded the feelings of alarm: ‘Resistance is futile…they’ll come into Nottingham and take over just as they have done everywhere else!’
With a big service provision review under way, it was clear that new services would likely be commissioned/tendered to new providers in the voluntary sector.
This situation coincided with Positive Attitude changing its name to Tagadere; an old English word meaning ‘together’ and considered to be more distinctive and memorable than being yet another HIV-
The Nottingham HIV service review was completed in late 2007. With UKC gone, the local authorities tendered for a single voluntary health and social care provider for HIV support. This substantial contract had to incorporate HIV testing, advice, benefits advice, peer support, training, prevention and awareness plus maintaining the weekly drop-
At that point Tagadere did not have the capacity to bid for it which meant that THT had a clear way in; they introduced a manager from Coventry and took premises in Nottingham city centre.
This shared building had a private concierge, marble floors, an elaborate chandelier and a grand piano; all rather intimidating due to the grandeur. THT subsequently relocated twice to equally unsuitable premises in Nottingham’s fashionable Lace Market; one was visited for appraisal by members of Nottingham’s HIV community who used the Tagadere drop-
Their concerns were immediately voiced regarding what they considered to be an unsuitable location on the corner of a permanently busy traffic intersection on a main artery into the city centre, opposite the main entrances for what was then the Trent FM Arena and also the bowling alley. Dissatisfaction was also registered about the lack of size and limited facilities for private sessions; the lack of disabled access and there only being a small area next to the toilet for a kitchen space.
These concerns were reported to THT who nevertheless proceeded to rent the premises, seemingly preferring to stay in a fashionable and expensive area of the city rather than consider the doubts expressed by service users.
THT made it absolutely clear that when they were awarded the contract they would immediately abandon the established weekly peer support drop-
At this point the City Commissioner intervened to renegotiate the contract, giving Tagadere a separate contract to run the weekly drop-
Tagadere received £10,000 per year which was a small fraction of the total budget and was to include venue hire, running costs and a hot lunch for service users cooked by service user volunteers. A weekly meal is something which Tagadere maintains to this day as a core activity.
Service user enthusiasm for developing the nascent Tagadere into a more focused, cohesive group evolved in early 2009 into the formation of a dedicated board of Trustees who created a Constitution and applied for charitable status which was granted in May of that year.
Since 2008, THT have been here in force, doing their thing and growing their staff team. Other local organisations and services have tried to work in partnership with them and cooperate for the benefit of service users.
The original manager from Coventry was promoted and replaced with yet another non-
Tagadere and THT coexisted for several years as services which were not in competition with each other but which existed as complementary services to meet the diverse needs of people living with HIV. Tagadere maintained that when other towns and cities had no support provision, Nottingham’s HIV positive community were fortunate to have choices of where to access their support.
Unfortunately, significant changes happened recently, including massive funding cuts; drastic changes to commissioning caused by abolishing Primary Care Trusts and putting testing and prevention into Local Authority hands. New commissioners were in place at our Local Authorities which included commissioners for public health.
A new tender went out to start 2014 and Tagadere lost its meagre £10,000 funding to run the drop-
Nottingham City Council made what was considered a half-
This latter and alarming stipulation meant that Tagadere would have to engage in the illegal process of Positive Discrimination.
It was felt that the warning ‘Resistance is futile’ was manifesting itself in what was perceived as a thinly disguised takeover proposal of a successful, local and most significantly, a voluntarily user-
To their credit, Tagadere’s trustees unanimously decided not to sell out their user-
Tagadere are dedicated and passionate in voluntarily providing a user-
The Trustees of Tagadere will try their best to raise funds by applying to small local trusts, illustrating our unique points of being local, grassroots, volunteer-
We have been interviewed on local radio and television and receive frequent requests from professional organisations for our HIV educational talks. Fortunately there are funders who will only fund small local groups in recognition of the value of community peer support.
Therefore, we here in Nottingham feel a lot of anguish and anxiety when we read about THT’s finances. We feel that those pay offs to the outgoing executives are offensive when we regularly encounter local people living with HIV who are on JSA sanctions and have to choose between using food banks or to starve.
It is hardly surprising that many local people living with HIV rely upon Tagadere for what is perhaps their one guaranteed hot nutritious meal each week which is shared in an environment of peer support. The fact that the THT Hardship Fund is even temporarily closed is shocking, especially given the tidal waves of money pouring in from celebrity events and large donors.
It has been reported to us that currently THT Nottingham has the following funding and staffing:
We understand that many people believe that this is an appropriate time for people living with HIV to raise questions about THT. Certainly, they have had a change in CEO so there could be changes ahead, but whether the new executives are prepared to put the needs of people living with HIV as an absolute priority is another issue -
The need for an independent HIV peer support group is evidenced in Tagadere’s weekly attendance of 20-
The people who use Tagadere tell us that they feel wanted, comfortable and validated by gaining their support from Tagadere. They attribute this to the fact that we are a local group run by volunteers with shared personal experiences of living with HIV and whose only intent is to help and benefit other people in a similar situation
Nottingham’s expanding HIV population deserves an accessible and alternative HIV support structure. Tagadere has been described by various professionals as ‘essential’; ‘indispensable’; ‘a significant resource for positive people’ and an ‘open supportive community’
It is not implausible to say that Tagadere is a too well respected, cherished and needed independent resource to allow it to become consumed beneath the corporate characteristics of a larger organisation.
Therefore, when we are told that ‘resistance is futile’, we reply ‘Not here in Nottingham, because Tagadere means ‘together’.
Trustee of Tagadere.