NOTTINGHAM’S ONLY INDEPENDENT
VOLUNTEER RUN HIV PEER SUPPORT GROUP
REGISTERED CHARITY 1129416
Registered Charity 1129416
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 1
‘Tagadere is a lifesaver’
I am writing to you because I feel that it needs to be said. Tagadere means so much to me and I know that goes for a lot of other people too. Personally, for me to say that Tagadere is a lifesaver is not an understatement at all. From you, I receive spiritual and emotional support on a level which I was unaware existed until I came to the weekly drop in which you provide.
After suffering doubt and confusion, suddenly I was welcomed into the midst of other people who were either going through or had gone through the emotions which I was experiencing. No longer was I alone! To feel that I was wanted and seen as a valid human being was what I had been searching a long time for and Tagadere ended that search.
I read on your website a testimonial saying that you worked gently and this attracted me towards you very much. Since attending the drop In and receiving support there and also in non-
Because you are local, that comforts me as I feel that you have the time for me whenever I need it, I will not be turned away and I am not just another statistic but a living human who before I learned of you, lived in a very mentally isolated lifestyle. I believed that I was just another name on a computer until Tagadere proved that I am here as a person and that my life is worth living.
Without you, I could not have done it and I am eternally grateful. Writing these few words is not much I suppose but it is my only way of letting you know what a lifesaver you are for me.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 2
‘So much support from everyone’
Coming to Tagadere changed my life in a bit of a life saving moment for me. As a mother I was really confused and looking all over for answers to all my questions.
I tried somewhere else in Nottingham first and that was about as much use as nothing. I’m a grown woman for god’s sake with a family and I really resented being treated like I wasn’t all there. I know I’ve got HIV and I understand all the stuff that goes with it but I want a bit of respect and not to be talked down to like I had a few screws missing.
I was told that Tagadere was around but only OK if you’re a gay man so that was me out then. I got it wrong or I should say I was told wrong about Tagadere.
I’ve had so much support from everyone and made new friendships but on my terms. I’m busy so can’t give a lot of time, but I give back as much as I can because I’ve had so much help from you all.
When I thought that I was on my own you were there and showed me that I could handle living with HIV as a mother with a busy life. You welcomed me when I was right at the end of my tether and I’ll never forget it. The drop in is part of my life now. It’s just a natural thing for me to do and I don’t know what I’d do without coming along.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 3
‘A real proper family community’
I had real serious doubts about approaching Tagadere but I knew that I needed someone else to talk to. I kept on looking at your website and it I really liked it, all of the things you do and that you all do it yourselves. But what held me back from contacting you for so long is that I was told your drop in is full of gay men. As a gay man myself there was NO way I was going to a group for poz gay guys. No way.
I moved here to get away from the gay scene. I stopped going out on it ages ago because I told someone in private I was positive and of course I bet you guessed, that news went round real fast and I suffered from it, so thought that moving to a new town would help. I soon got it that gay scenes in big cities are the same all over if they find out you’re HIV. On the other hand I was going up the wall because I needed some help and that’s why I gave you a go.
I thought if you weren’t what I wanted then I didn’t have to bother again but I was really wrong. I realised that what I heard was just people on the scene being bitchy just like before, the same old same old. Your drop in or should I say OUR drop in is more than I could’ve expected and what an eye opener. As soon as I spent one day there I saw it’s a real proper family community and there’s all sorts of people going. To think that if I’d listened to all that bitching then I would’ve missed out on so much happiness I get from Tagadere.
The way everyone gets on just blows my mind and I’ve found myself laughing and talking with people that I would never’ve expected to and that made me realised that before I was living in a bubble of a gay world in my last place.
A big thing that Tagadere has taught me is to open my eyes to other people. I lived a 24/7 gay lifestyle and didn’t see or realise that there is a world out there. I was stuck in the scene but was so fed up with it and that’s why I thought I wouldn’t come if you were a gay group. Tagadere, your/our drop in has given me a lot of strength in facing up to who I am and opening my mind.
If it wasn’t for the encouragement everyone gave me I’d still be stuck and trying to cope with being HIV just about on my own and without Tagadere I’d still be crawling up the wall never dreaming I could have what I found with you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 4
‘Tagadere is an amazing thing’
I was awake when dawn broke this morning and I love that time of day -
Tagadere is one of those things and without you guys, it would never have happened and it would not still be happening. There are so many people living with HIV in Nottingham that owe everything to you for keeping the drop-
I so wish people would understand how much effort you put in to running the drop-
Tagadere is an amazing thing and you who give your free time to run it are amazing. Credit yourselves with something that is truly incredible. Tagadere supports anyone who asks for support. You do everything you possibly can to support everyone who needs support and if sometimes that isn't enough for them, well so be it.
It is not because you have not done everything in your power to do to help; you always do. Remember though -
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 5
‘Ability to connect with people’
Tagadere have developed their services over the last year and have emerged as a significant resource for positive people. Their strengths lie in their ability to connect with people who are newly diagnosed and at the other end of the scale they can involve long term survivors with a sense of purpose and collective strength.
I have been able to call on Tagadere to support clients going through difficult periods in their lives or are experiencing isolation. These vital services work gently to give people hope, in other words a genuine life line. As Tagadere is a self help group they generate camaraderie and genuineness without the restrictions of a large organisation.
The Tagadere Drop-
At the Drop-
Overall, Tagadere has been a welcome addition to the HIV services whom I can call upon to provide support to clients in need.
HIV Specialist Social Worker
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 6
‘Feeling like a new person’
Hi Tagadere drop in,
It’s me (xxx) I thought you might want to know what’s happening with me, I’m getting on. I’m back in work full time now so I can’t get to the drop in like I used to. A year ago I was a mess in my head with the things happening to me. You know it all, the money worries and my benefit and being confused about taking HIV meds, I didn’t think it was worth going on as everything was pressing down on me, there seemed only one way out and you know about that.
But when I rang and spoke to (xxx) and then came along to the drop in, before I come along I still was in doubt that things could be sorted out but they were. It was great that I could have somebody listen to me and really take time to explain and help me sort things out. I got everything I needed all under one roof, I think that is great, I didn’t have to go all over town to get help it was all there in one place. That really helped me because the thought of having to go all over when I was down was bringing me down more.
After dinner to walk out feeling like a new person knowing that all of the stuff was sorted out for me was the biggest help I’ve had and then a bit later on with you supporting me about getting a job that was the best thing and I feel like I’m back on track and only looking forward now and it’s all thanks to you at Tagadere and the fantastic team because you guys listened to me and gave me hope when I know I didn’t have any hope.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 7
I visited a Tagadere Drop-
The atmosphere was worlds removed from the impression many have of these groups; there was none of the 'doom and gloom' with which these groups are often attributed.
Everyone I spoke to was comfortable with expressing themselves freely and without fear of rejection, something which it was not possible for some of them in life outside of the group and clearly benefited them. It was definitely interesting to see an organisation with input from both members and professionals, able to provide a service accessible to all.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 8
‘Coming home to Tagadere’
I was born in Nottingham and have lived here all of my life, although my work means that I travel the country extensively.
I would like to offer my thanks to you for the service you provide for me and others who have HIV and say that, as a born and bred Nottingham person, it makes me greatly proud when I can tell other HIV positive people of the service we have in my home town and furthermore that it’s all run by volunteers. Sometimes they are quite doubtful, so I have to give them the address of your website to show you off!
I can get what I need when I need it from you and whenever I get the chance to come to the Drop-
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 9
‘Open supportive community’
Tagadere offers an amazing space of welcome and affirmation. A relaxed and supportive environment provides as much or as little as you want. Welfare advice, health advice, signposting, someone to chat to, coffee and tea on tap and a hot meal with veg and non veg options.
This open supportive community offers space to develop your creative side, try new skills, laugh, find friends, a listening ear, expertise and experience.
Tagadere’s quality of community is a rare thing -
Reverend Karen Rooms
St. Ann with Emmanuel Church Nottingham
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 10
‘The true meaning of acceptance’
When I learned of my HIV diagnosis it was a life changing event for me. Equally, when I discovered Tagadere that was also a life changing event for me and I quickly discovered what the true meaning of acceptance is. When I go to Tagadere I’m not judged or criticised because of my condition. Because of that, it has now stopped being an obsession with me as I know that I am surrounded by support and love.
People who don’t understand might laugh at the word love but that is what I feel when I go. I try to get as often as I can and if I skip a week I feel the need to get back as soon as I can. I feel that I owe my ability to deal with my HIV down to the support which I have had from Tagadere. From my very first visit I felt validated.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 11
‘Get back on track mentally’
I found out that I was HIV positive fifteen years ago. I didn’t tell anyone but had to tell my fiance, she then walked out on me after nearly six years of being together, everything was off. I couldn’t believe it and when people asked why we split up, I couldn’t tell them the truth and told lies about it, saying that she had been playing around. I lived with the fear that she was going round telling everyone that I had HIV and moved away from the area we lived.
I carried on going to work, wanting to tell someone because it was like carrying this thing around in my head, but nobody knew apart from the people at the hospital. After my fiance went I was terrified that if I told other people, they would react the same way and I couldn’t face the idea of that.
Then about a year ago I found out about the Tagadere group in Nottingham so I contacted them, one of them came to meet me to talk things over and then the next week I went along to the group meeting and that was it, at last I was with people who were in the same boat as me. I wasn’t treated any differently or specially, I was just me who just happened to have HIV.
I was off work at the time and managed to go every week for about six weeks, but now I’m back at work and when I can juggle my days off, I go to Tagadere Drop-
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 12
‘More than my real family’
One of the many things I love about you is that you always remember people’s birthday, this makes the group feel like a family or for me, more than my real family who weren’t much impressed when I finally got the courage and told them I had HIV. They just about cut me off, no phone calls no Christmas cards and no birthday cards, no nothing.
It’s the little things that matter and you know how much little things mean, other people might not be bothered but to me and I know to others who use Tagadere it really makes it because you realise that someone really does care when you have experienced someone not caring.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 13
‘Welcoming me as an old friend’
Dear Tagadere Drop-
Though we never met before and I never came to the drop in I have got to write and to thank you for welcoming me as an old friend and to everyone who helped me understand about taking medications when I came to ask. Finding out from people who know about reactions and things like that really helped me as I was so worried.
Because of the bad feeling in my community I was told that I should not listen to doctors and not take the medication when I was told I need to start treatment.
Talking with people who know because they have done it really settled my mind and I am glad to tell you all I am now starting medications. Thank you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 14
‘The support we get is amazing’
Thanks for being such a help when my friend was diagnosed with HIV. Neither of us had any idea of where to go or what to do. When the lady at the hospital told us about the group in Nottingham it was well worth coming over, it’s a 40 mile round trip driving from where we are but there’s nothing out here.
Driving all that way to Nottingham and back home again can wear you out specially when you’re feeling tired because of your meds but when we come to the group the support we get is amazing and makes it well worth it, so thanks.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 15
‘A marvellous thing for everyone’
Tagadere what can I say but than you for taking me on the visit to the seaside. To see the sea for the first time in my life meant so much to me, it was unbelievable, I never thought I would ever get the chance to be there. I enjoy the visits out and I learn so much about the English country and the history which is so different to home. I am looking forward to the next ones.
I know you do a marvellous thing for everyone. Some people don’t know how to than you but I do so thank you again and god bless you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 16
‘The chance to talk freely’
Thank you for giving me a chance to meet with other women in the same situation as me because as a Muslim woman there is not any chance at all that in my community I could talk with anyone at all about what I am living with and what worries me so coming to the group gives me the chance to talk freely. It was hard at the start but everybody welcomed me so much that it made coming back the next time a lot easier and now I look forward each week to coming along.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 17
‘We both learned so much’
Thank you for a lovely day out last week. It was great that I was able to bring my daughter, as it’s in school holidays, she really enjoyed the art safari where she found lots of interesting things to tell me about afterwards.
It was nice to go with the group to a place such as this as I’m not sure we would have gone off our own backs and really couldn’t afford to have a break somewhere as nice as this. Thank you also for providing lunch as carrying a packed lunch around for us both can be really tiring.
Another successful trip out, we both learned so much and having the chance to get away together was fantastic. Thanks to all who organised it and made it happen. It was fab!
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 18
‘I get to meet new people’
Thanks a lot for running the new group for gay men. I don’t really get out that much and I don’t really like the Scene any more and feel a bit old for it anyway. But I really enjoy coming to the Thursday night group because it gets me out and otherwise what am I going to do but stay in my flat.
I didn’t used to talk about when my boyfriend got HIV and when he died I felt that I couldn’t talk to anyone in the gay pubs because I know what they are all like, calling you dirty and all of that. So when I come to the new meetings I found there’s men there who know what I’m on about and don’t point fingers so it gets me out and I get to meet new people and talk about stuff I’ve kept in for nearly twenty years.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 19
‘Tagadere makes me feel calm’
I am writing to say thank you to you for our women’s group meetings.
It is good for us to be able to talk away from men even though we are all living with this condition sometimes women need to talk about women’s things and being a woman with HIV. Coming along to Tagadere makes me feel calm about it all.
If I didn’t have the women’s group where I can share my thoughts and worries with other women with HIV then sometimes I think I would go mad. So thank you
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 20
‘My Tagadere family made it more bearable’
To my friends at Tagadere,
I want to take the opportunity to thank the people at Tagadere who organised such a beautiful ceremony in memory of our dear friend (xxx) when she passed away.
It was really difficult to deal with losing such a dear and beautiful lady and once I was at Tagadere drop-
Being with my Tagadere family made it more bearable and to hear others talking about her and remembering her was soothing to me and when I got home that evening and stopped me from feeling quite so sad.
The idea of releasing the silver and white balloons in her memory was a beautiful and thoughtful gesture and I am sure that the balloons were floating off to her and she was watching.
Thank you Tagadere once again for helping me to understand that I was not the only one who was sad for her passing and I didn’t feel alone with my friends around me.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 21
‘I am a part of everything again’
Tagadere, thank you for encouraging me to go back into education. Without you supporting me I would never have had the courage to do it, I felt like I wasn’t up to much and not capable of doing it off my own back.
It was a hard step because until I began coming to the drop in and feeling really involved, I really was living day to day and didn’t have much hope for the future, I didn’t even think there was a future to be honest with you. But getting back into learning and moving on has been great for me, I now feel like I am a part of everything again and not an outsider with this illness that only I know about.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 22
‘Tagadere is the sunshine in my life’
I’m thanking you for the excellent support you have given to me over a long period of time. You have always been there for me and nothing is ever too much for you all. The strength I get from coming each week is amazing.
I have found out that there are people in the world who will make out that they are your friend, so you give them your all and everything. Then they will turn on you and attack you for no reason. This is extremely hurtful and makes you fear trusting anyone again and laying yourself open again.
You know how I have been there for someone for a long time only to have them throw it all back in my face and how hurt I am to be treated like this by someone who I trusted and thought was a friend even though other people warned me that this person was a bad person and I didn’t listen. With your encouragement and support I am able to deal with this much better and realise that I do not need a negative ungrateful person like that around me.
When a day seems like a grey day Tagadere is the sunshine in my life.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 23
‘A safe and confidential network’
From June till August 2011, I was a short term volunteer at Tagadere in Nottingham.
From first meeting the members of Tagadere I was immediately struck by how many people attended. I had assumed that reaching out to people with HIV to offer a service such as Tagadere does would be a challenging task yet they have worked tremendously hard to create a safe and confidential network that so many people feel comfortable enough to join. I feel this is an achievement in itself and was hugely impressed by how supportive everyone was of each other.
During my time there I helped members with cooking in the kitchen allowing time to talk to them one on one about their experiences. Mostly I heard stories of trial and tribulations in younger years but later a more settled and fulfilling life doing jobs that they could manage and friends in which they could trust in. Tagadere was always mentioned as a key component of their life, providing them with stability and friends.
With access to a social worker on site, members were encouraged and supported in the process of finding a job or housing which may have previously been too daunting to organise independently. Furthermore, due to the nature of the support group, an extremely experienced nurse was available to liaise with service users if required.
However, as well as weekly providing a safe environment with healthy food and drink, Tagadere also offers opportunities for trips around and out of Nottingham for the group. From speaking to members, this was a real highlight; many trips venturing to places that would otherwise not be possible to reach for many individuals. I do believe in the importance of giving people the opportunity to do new things outside of their average routine to keep life enjoyable!
I am so supportive of this cause and can't emphasise more how necessary and enjoyable it appeared to every member I was lucky enough to meet. Tagadere is a very well run volunteer support group with access to help from so many different angles highlighting the commitment and ability for Tagadere to be run effectively.
I would be saddened if such an effective and truly worthwhile group was unable to continue due to funding. Good luck to Tagadere in continuing the good and honest work.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 24
‘I feel relaxed’
Tagadere. Thank you and congratulations on doing what you do so well. Our group is so good for me as I am now back in a job thanks to your help with the employment issues I had. Now I can fit my one day off around coming in to continue receiving my support and being with my friends.
I still get stressed about my condition mostly when I am tired. The Art Group really relaxes me and I love that we are in a group talking about things, not always HIV, when we create things. Being in an Art Group with other HIV positive people lets me open up about my condition. I feel relaxed enough to be able to talk and discuss the things which are bothering me. I really appreciate what you do for everyone so please keep up the good work, I’d be lost without you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 25
‘You care about me and other people’
I left my country under a bad situation and I did not think that I could find happiness again until I found your group. In my country I am seen as a bad person because I am HIV but you made me welcome into Tagadere and you help me with making me see that I am not a bad person.
Just that I am HIV it does not mean that I am bad and you all make me feel like I am good and that I should not hate myself. In my country I could never feel this way.
I am sometime sad because I had to run away but I am now happy because you in Tagadere show me love. You care about me and other people who live with HIV and you give us hope. Thank you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 26
Hi guys I want to let you all know our Tagadere drop-
It’s the highlight I look forward to being with my family of friends. We all listen and learn and laugh together. That is the most important thing for me. Because I know that when I need any help with things that are a bit difficult for me like benefit and housing forms etc then all I do is to mention it and the problem of me worrying is solved.
To be with everyone and learning new things is awesome for me and talking about how I feel living a life with HIV makes me feel much better.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 27
‘You make me feel good’
Tagadere. My good friends who I know I can brighten my life. You make me feel wanted and make me feel like I matter. I have my health issues and you make me feel good by sharing your love. I used to pray for something good like this to happen for me and now my prayers have been answered because of Tagadere in my life. Thank you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 28
‘Friendship and good times’
I left England last year and often think about you all at Tagadere. I wanted to write to say how much I miss the Tagadere drop in meetings and to let you know how preciously I hold the memories of the friendship and good times which I shared.
When life was difficult for me you accepted me, welcomed me with open arms into the community which you have created so amazingly. You provided me with the support which I needed emotionally.
I know that deep down in my heart I shall forever remain one of Tagadere no matter how far away I am. I can look on the website and keep in touch with everything, all of your achievements and the way that you continue to fight the good fight for people living with HIV.
My sincere congratulations on having the courage and self belief to continue as an independent group. I feel this is an inherent part of what makes Tagadere such a loving and accepting thing. Long may you continue because without you so many people would be as lost as I felt before I came to Tagadere.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 29
‘Warmth and welcome’
My first visit to the Drop-
Everything about the day was encouraging and affirming for me. One young member’s story brought tears to my eyes. The constant supply refreshment was a great facility. Thank you so much for your encouragement.
I am pleased to be a part of the Tagadere community
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 30
‘It’s made me feel better about myself’
I am a volunteer for Tagadere in Nottingham. I had a couple of rough years after I lost my job and I seemed to lose the plot a bit and began to drink heavily and got involved in some drugs. I mate who had cleaned up his act and he told me about volunteering and what he got out of it.
After I went into rehab I came out OK and I looked at what was involved with volunteering. I found out about Tagadere from someone from my old days who is HIV positive and I looked into what I could do for them. I don’t think I do too much but I’m told what bit I do makes a difference to the members there and it makes a difference to me, so it goes around.
It’s made me feel better about myself as well and I’ve met a great bunch of people who I don’t think I would have met if I’d not been going to join in and help out at Tagadere on a Wednesday.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 31
‘Doing it for somebody else’
What it is about Tagadere and their drop in that gets me is that it’s run by people who do it off their own back and who are doing something for somebody else, they’re not up themselves and take the time to bother and think about somebody else, today people are all me me me and take take take all the time and out for what they can get for themselves without putting something back and it’s nice for a change to meet a bunch of people who have got off their (xxxxx) and are doing it for somebody else without thinking of themselves and what they can get out of it.
It’s easy to sit in your chair in front of the telly or your computer moaning about things, but these guys actually DO something. It was nice to know they’re all volunteers because Tagadere think of you as a person who is worth something, they are magic. Cheers.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 32
‘Changed my life for the better’
Dear Tagadere friends, you were there for me when I felt that I could go no lower.
I was down there and after I came to Tagadere I knew that the only way was up for me from that point which changed my life for the better.
I was listened to and people were interested in me and I was not just another number as it were.
I am forever grateful that you showed me that my life had not finished before it had really started.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 33
‘I got so much support’
I am writing to say how grateful I am for the support which I have received from Tagadere.
Visiting the drop-
Thank you sincerely.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 34
‘Unselfish, giving, loving, caring, empathetic’
Tagadere goes far beyond anything I could imagine.
There have been a lot of changes in my life since my diagnosis and I know that without the support and backup I got from everyone at Tagadere then I would not have made it through.
When I really needed someone to be there for me Tagadere was at my side for me.
I am so grateful to you because you stood by me and helped me without expecting anything back in return. You are unselfish, giving, loving, caring, empathetic and I would even say devoted. I’m sure that I speak for many many people living with HIV in Nottingham. Without the dedication of those keeping Tagadere vibrant, supportive and still here, then I shudder to think of the void which nobody else could fill.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 35
‘I have never felt such a welcome ever’
At the start I was didn’t want to go to Tagadere drop-
I suppose really I guessed that it would be like that and I would feel worse and more guilty and ashamed. Well I could not have been more wrong if I tried. Everyone was laughing and joking and smiling, it was a great collection of people who all got on together and welcomed me like I had always been there and maybe just gone out to the shop for a few minutes and returned. I have never felt such a welcome ever.
After all of my fearfulness I felt a bit foolish to have such thoughts that it would be miserable. Going along has made such a good difference to my life and I know that I have made a good lot of friends who will support me and I hope that I can support them by learning from them.
I’m not religious but I do believe that you should give out goodness in life and that is what Tagadere do to so many people who otherwise may feel alone.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 36
‘Such a real feeling of belonging’
I found out I’m HIV positive ages ago. I’m a bit of a private person and would never go to a support group. Only one close friend knows about me and she looked on the internet and told me about Tagadere being local.
She was always on at me to go along because she thought that there I would get the support I needed from other people in my situation as there was only so much she could do. I never looked at the website because I used to think to myself why would I want to go and sit in a room full of gay men who I have nothing in common with?
In the end I gave in and went along to Tagadere that once just to keep my friend quiet. When I got there it was like I had known everyone forever and it wasn’t full of gay men at all and I don’t mean that to sound funny, it was everyone from all walks of life. I felt relaxed and made welcome.
There’s such a real feeling of belonging there and a true feeling of encouragement about life. I wasted so long sticking my head in the sand, I just wish I’d gone to Tagadere all those years ago because if I had then I would have been more relaxed about myself a long time ago and also given my friend a bit of a break!
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 37
‘I no longer feel a victim’
My friends at Tagadere,
Thank You seems not to be enough to let you know how much I value what you do for me and so many others. No matter how awful I feel about myself I know I can rely on the support which you give to me with out question and don’t know how I would have coped over the past few months if it not been for being able to come to the drop in and be allowed to feel Good about myself.
I know that I can talk about HIV when I need to but am glad that you all give a new slant to the word Positive in HIV Positive!! I didn’t know what to expect when I first came along, thinking back I suppose I thought it was a bit of an End Of The Road sort of place but thank God how wrong I was. And its not just about talking about HIV but about living life and Getting On.
You have given me the power to feel great about Me and others and I no longer feel a Victim and no longer concern myself with asking myself Why Me. This is because you gave me the Power to help me to survive and be energetic in my thoughts about Me. Yes I have got HIV but thanks to you the thoughts I had about it are not going to beat me down!! I really don’t know how I would have gone on without you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 38
‘I’m not lonely anymore’
Loneliness is a terrible thing to have to go through. I kept my secret on my own for so long. I didn’t think I could tell anybody because nobody could know what I am going through so I’ve been holding it all in for over 10 years now.
There’s a woman at work who I thought I could trust if I told her but I still didn’t. Even though she seems OK. I just couldn’t risk talking to her. To get my courage up and go your Tagadere Drop In was a big deal of it for me. I did it and after that first step there was no going back for me once I was through the door.
It was great to be able to meet someone to talk to just me and them before I went into the group. I don’t know why I was so worried because it is full of people just like me, but it was a big step. I’m so glad that I took that first step. I think I thought it was going to be like a hospital ward or something. A stupid idea but I just didn’t know what to expect. What I found is fantastic.
You guys have got some magic going on there. A great group of normal people caring about each other. I’m not lonely anymore. I’m at the other end of the scale because I’ve met new people and made new friends who don’t and won’t let HIV spoil their life. Because of this I learned from other people at Tagadere that I must live happily. Thank you, Guys.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 39
‘A torchlight shining through my darkness’
Hi Tagadere. You mean so much to me that I thought that instead of keep saying it to anyone who’ll listen, I’d like to write it down and hopefully you would include it on the website as I’d like to share with the world the top support which you’ve given me over the past three years.
Nothing is too much for you! You go the proverbial extra mile and then some more! With your encouragement and love you’ve taken me from a very dark place in my life to a place where I am calm and happy with myself. To me, you are a torchlight shining through my darkness.
Now I can put my hand on my heart and say I’m happy because, down to you, I’ve learned to live with my HIV. I can say MY HIV because I realise that it is just another part of who I am and once I came to that realisation, it seemed to add definition to who I am. I realised that there’s no use fighting it, it’s a case of job done, so I just have to deal with it, accept it and live life as fully as I can. With your help I’ve been able to do this.
Seeing my friends every week at the drop in is the highlight of my week and it’s always good to meet new friends who come to Tagadere for that first time. If they are where I was back then, maybe I can help them in the way which you helped me and then I can give something back.
You gave and I took so now it’s time for me to give and for someone else to take and benefit from what I learned by coming to Tagadere. You’re totally worth your weight in gold and long may your successes continue.
I know for sure that Nottingham’s HIV population would be lost without you. I’m aware of how much you do behind the scenes and out of hours and that for Tagadere the clock never stops, so a big respect due to what you do for everyone.
My eternal thanks XX
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 40
‘Tagadere fills an emptiness in me’
I volunteer for Tagadere because Tagadere’s where I get the support I need to make my life better. I didn’t realise how much I get out of Tagadere without putting something back in. You can’t keep taking out of the jar and expect it to be always full, can you, so if I can put back some of what I’ve got out over the years then I think that’s only right and fair.
It’s like our drop-
I didn’t realise that it has to be set up from scratch until I had to go in early doors because I was having big problems understanding some forms and needed to talk to someone. When I got there it was just a large, empty community centre. It looked really lonely and vacant but when I go to Tagadere it’s all there, you know what I mean, it’s all in place like a ready-
I just expect to always find the smell of the cooking and the coffee, the fruit on the table, the papers, the snacks and expect the laughter and conversation and seeing a hall full of people already there having a laugh and getting on. Maybe I thought that it all just came out of a massive magic box or cupboard, like an instant family or something like that.
So after that time I went home and thought about it, well I thought about it on the bus home actually and it was like I kind of knew that I was being, well, sort of selfish, it was like I had to examine myself and by the time I got off the bus I thought why should it be down just to a few people to always provide such a magic place? I can drop in and drop out, cheers, thanks for the meal, thanks for the coffee and the laughs and the support.
Thanks for listening to me going on about myself, see you next week or when I next need you on the phone. Because you’ll always be there for everyone, won’t you. But what if you weren’t there and there wasn’t a Tagadere drop in? What if you’re feeling badly and don’t want to get out of bed to go and set it all up for everyone? How many people would lose out if they turned up and it was all empty and closed up?
So that was when the next week I asked what can I do? I might not be very good at some things but there’s other things I can do and when I found out that like every little bit of effort helps, then that was it. Just like helping in little ways can really contribute to my community and it makes me feel really good. After seeing nothing there when it was just an empty community centre I got a shock when I realised that I would be totally lost without Tagadere in my life. I would be as empty as that hall when it was empty, you know what I mean.
Tagadere fills an emptiness in me and I know that I should put back in so that if others have that same feeling of emptiness, if there was not Tagadere every week, me and a load of other HIV positive people wouldn’t have anywhere to go to and be able to get so much from it. So that’s why Tagadere not only helped me in so many ways but even better, it made me look at myself and I think that I’m a better person for it because I changed my attitude to others. It’s like we’re all in this together, aren’t we?
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 41
‘You answered as you always do’
I didn’t half get a shock last week when I came to drop-
What would I do if that had happened? And what would we all do if you had decided to pack it in? All the way home it got me thinking and then when I was on the bus it came to me to ring, so I rang and of course you answered as you always do and explained about the work being done.
But if there was no more Tagadere, no more of something I know I can trust and value and I suppose depend on, then I just don’t know. I’m getting on much better now than I was and I totally put this down to the support and friendship I’ve had over the years from everyone coming to the drop in.
I know you’ve been up against it. I do hear things. I know there’s been some blows but you still keep on going and I am full of honest admiration for you for not giving in.
I read the article in Baseline and am so proud of you that as it says you did not sell out your principles. Because if you had sold out then it would be selling out all of us in Nottingham with HIV and that doesn’t bear thinking about. So you keep on the good work. You always have my support and thanks.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 42
‘You do it for the right reasons’
Tagadere is a great thing. It is a being in its own right. It’s like a supernova. It has grown over the years and developed into this wonderful powerful caring loving force.
The things you do for all of us all makes me feel grateful of being welcomed into it.
Things are different now to how they were back in the day, all those years and years ago. HIV medications. So lucky to have them. There are people who didn’t have them. Things have changed but there is still a need for us to have psychological care and for people to feel for what’s going on in our minds and know what’s going on in our minds. Tagadere comes in here perfectly. Because you FEEL and you KNOW and you do it for the RIGHT reasons.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 43
‘Helped me come a long way’
Thanks for yesterday I meant what I said about Tagadere being a great place for support.
I know I'm still struggling from day to day but it's helped me come a long way in the time I've been going along.
I love helping out cooking etc, it makes you feel a part of something far greater and it's helping my head around HIV.
Isolation is my greatest obstacle and going to the drop in makes me different person.
Long may it continue.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 44
‘You’re the Lord Mayor’s Charity’
Hi there Tagadere,
I reckoned that I’d like to write a few lines to you to let you know just how important to me you are.
I started off my HIV life back to the old days in a different city in a different time.
Yes in London but I escaped from the big bad smoke and tried a few other places before I ended up in Nottingham. I guess I wasn’t too ready to settle down with myself and my thoughts about having HIV. People come and go in your life don’t they and at the end of the day you’re on your Jack.
Don’t get me wrong I did get help back then in the other places and I am grateful for that help. But I survived and got here. I saw what you did from the early days and how you changed and got it together, getting to where you are and being what you are now is massive. You’re the Lord Mayor’s Charity.
For a long time I’ve been saying that as a volunteer group you should be praised and recognised by Nottingham as a whole and especially the city council and now the Lord Mayor’s put his seal of Nottingham’s approval on Tagadere and I reckon that you should really be proud of that.
I hope the council now give you loads of money to make sure that you’re going to keep being there for everyone with HIV in Nottingham.
Having seen how councils are run in other parts of the country I won’t hold my breath though.
Whatever happens I know you’ll keep yourself together because deep down everything you do is for the benefit of a part of society which is stupidly stigmatised by idiots who think it won’t happen to them. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and all that.
Keep on going because HIV positive people in Nottingham need Tagadere and don’t forget that without you there would be nothing. Nothing.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 45
‘I’m glad that someone was there’
I’m lonely and a bit of a lone wolf I think. When I was diagnosed I faced up to my HIV on my own and decided that I had to deal with it. I didn’t really deal with it in all honesty, it was more like suppressing it and trying to imagine it wasn’t happening to me. I did feel like a split in my personality. HIV was happening to the one side of me, the other person. The normal person was still working and carrying on as normal, or as normal as I could pretend.
The hours in the middle of the night are the worst hours. That’s when I felt really alone, anxious, paranoid and totally vulnerable. I thought that I was a tough cookie but every tough person has their soft spot, don’t they. Even the hardest hard nut has a weak point.
I didn’t need anyone else to support me or to offer me friendship, especially just because I have HIV. I don’t do friends. I didn’t want to hang out with a load of other people who I wouldn’t normally even talk to just because we have HIV and I certainly don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me or treating me like a charity case or fool and the last thing I want is someone patronsing me and pretending that they understand.
You know there comes a time when you have to give in or bend a bit, it’s not exactly admitting defeat but enough’s enough. Why was I isolating myself and relishing my stubbornness when there was a chance to not exactly get help but to maybe ease my way into truly accepting what I have and then really deal with it.
That’s when you lot at Tagadere come into my story.
It was a big step to phone up. Phoning on a Sunday morning is a good idea because it’ll be voicemail, won’t it! Wrong. Three rings and the phone was answered. That floored me totally. It wasn’t supposed to happen like that and looking back, I’m glad that someone was there.
No pressure, it was easy and light hearted. Not an agony helpline or anything like that, I didn’t feel like I was in confessional, in fact we ended up having a laugh on the phone which made me resolve to myself that I would go along to a Tagadere drop meeting the next Wednesday.
That decision was one of the best decisions in my life. I assumed that it would be people unhappy and desperate sitting holding hands and confessing, I am and I have HIV, looking like they were at death’s door. I don’t know where I got those impressions from but they were completely the opposite to what I found and I wondered if I had come to the right place. Nobody pointed at me, nobody treated me like I was a special case.
There were all sorts of people in that place and from all walks of life and all welcomed me instantly. Nobody pried into my business or questioned me. It was back at home when I suddenly realised how much I had opened up to strangers.
Those strangers became friends who were supportive and without judgement.
I now live away from Nottingham but I wanted to let you know that I thank Tagadere, all of you involved for making me accept myself and actually love myself for who I am and what I have got. Those two sides of me in my head are now joined and I am a whole person and HIV is part of who I am. Tagadere is responsible for making me that whole person without any doubt. Peace, respect and gratitude to you.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 46
‘Unconditional support and friendship’
You could say that people who go to the drop in have nothing in common but HIV but there is another thing there. That is caring for one another without judgement or rejecting someone.
Some people might feel that they have been treated unfairly and the whole world is against them but at Tagadere drop in all I see is unconditional support and friendship and kindness which is something that can go unnoticed until it is too late, you don’t know what you have got till you lose it and then it’s too late.
Keep it up, the good work and thanks for being there for me and everyone with HIV.
Positively Speaking: Tagadere experiences 47
‘Because of Tagadere I got my self respect back’
When I got my HIV diagnosis it just confirmed what I’d been guessing for a long time because I think that you sort of know deep down, don’t you, so I was more or less prepared for it but what I didn’t know was what help was about.
I was referred to Tagadere as my first port of call and I am forever grateful that I was given your telephone number because making that first call to you set me on the road to dealing with my diagnosis and what to do next.
The phone was answered straight away meaning that I had no time to think twice if this was the right thing to do and then back out straight away.
Though I was prepared for a positive diagnosis I wasn’t really prepared for the emotions which went through my head, they really surprised me and those on top of starting meds it all made it a really confusing time. I’m very level-
Tagadere being there put my foot on the first rung of the ladder to moving onwards to a better place in my head. I had previously been totally unaware that such a magnificent charity existed and that such a magnificent charity was run by volunteers from the local HIV community. I didn’t even know there was a local HIV community! Maybe Tagadere is the local HIV community, I didn’t know.
It was immediately apparent to me that you all do it from a love of doing it and wanted to share your experiences to make it easier for those of us who were newly diagnosed, even those bigheads like me who thought that they were prepared and were OK enough to deal with it alone.
The most valuable things I got is friendship and reassurance and because of Tagadere I got my self respect back because so many people at Tagadere have been where I was just beginning to go. I am now very much stabilized and feel that I can stand on my own two feet.
What I do need to say is that if Tagadere had not been available for me to access right there at the start then I very much doubt that I would be here now because as I’ve explained, the direction my mind was going was leading me to a very dark place, even my work colleagues noticed and commented about it but of course I couldn’t tell them that I was HIV positive because in my line of work that would lead to a lot of discrimination and at that point I wasn’t ready to do battle.
Tagadere turned me around and helped me back into the light, bright place. I regained my confidence with the massive end result that I disclosed my status at work who have been totally sterling in their approach and thanked me for my honesty and courage. I found that courage because of Tagadere’s support when I really needed it.
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