Team Timber: a young generation are energised to support Tagadere and challenge ignorance about HIV

As the second half of 2014 began Tagadere was contacted by a collection of 16-17 year olds collectively known as Team Timber who were engaging in the government sponsored National Citizens Scheme, facilitated by New College Nottingham. 


After much research and serious consideration of various local charities, Team Timber chose to represent and fundraise for Tagadere.


The group astutely recognised our unique position Nottingham’s only independent, volunteer run peer support group operated by local people living with HIV and after researching HIV and Tagadere’s ethos were sufficiently confident to take this knowledge mixed with their own enthusiasm and energy out into the local communities. 


Team Timber presented a positive, direct approach to raising awareness of Tagadere and HIV by organising a variety of innovative and inventive sponsored events including supermarket bag packs whilst wearing 'onesies’; each bag packed for a customer included an information leaflet about Tagadere and HIV; Team Timber aslso undertook the distribution of ice cream in Nottingham's Market Square where each ice cream was accompanied by their self-produced information leaflet about Tagadere and HIV; further efforts included coffee mornings, sponsored bag carrying and liasing with local radio and businesses utilising a social media campaign via Twitter and Facebook. 


Everyone at Tagadere is absolutely overwhelmed that a new generation of younger people are prepared to devote their time and combined energies to bring the subject of HIV into focus and to promote Tagadere to the general public of Nottingham.


Team Timber chose Tagadere which illustrates that HIV has not completely bypassed a younger generation due to lack of HIV awareness education; their amazing efforts have forced the issue of HIV into the wider community, simultaneously promoting Tagadere and our voluntary work to a new audience who may previously had not heard of Tagadere or may not have even not known what HIV is.


Team Timber's actions when combined with the recent televised interviews with a Tagadere member on Notts TV have catapulted Tagadere into a more public visibility as Nottingham's only independent, volunteer run HIV self help group who continue to provide valuable and essential peer support - and more!


On 17th September, Emily and Liam (team leader and team mentor from Team Timber) visited Tagadere drop-in to present us with the tangible results of their amazing fundraising in the form of a brand new high specification laptop computer and a fabulous projector.


This presentation followed consultations with Tagadere upon how the results of Team Timber’s fundraising should be used; for some time we have been discussing having a Tagadere Film Club at our drop-in after lunch each week. Our ideas have been brought to fruition much earlier due to the amazing high profile fundraising activities which Team Timber created. 


Following a presentation of the laptop and projector, Emily and Liam stayed to share a delicious homemade curry lunch with our regular large gathering of Tagadere members; this provided a chance for the two representatives of Team Timber to witness the uplifting multicultural community atmosphere of Tagadere. 


We cannot begin to emphasise how amazed we all are that Team Timber undertook such a massive project and produced such positive results in a relatively short space of time in order to support Tagadere and to unashamedly put the issue of HIV out into the public eye. 


A vibrant younger generation taking the subject of HIV quite literally to the streets is an amazing exercise in broadcasting the message to not only their peers and contemporaries but to existing generations of local people who, if even thinking about it, may regard HIV/AIDS as a note scribbled in the margins of history and unaware of Tagadere being Nottingham’s unique home-grown local HIV support group.

 

This attitude was exemplified at a Tagadere World AIDS Day awareness event when an worrying number of people commented that they thought that HIV/AIDS was 'something from the eighties' and 'only happened in Africa'. Maybe the most disconcerting comment was from one person whom, upon realising that Tagadere is a local group, remarked with some alarm 'You mean that there are actually people in Nottingham with it?' 


In a social climate where public awareness and media representation of HIV still remains disgracefully underrepresented by those with significantly large fiscal capabilities to address the situation, it is refreshing to see a new, aware and enlightened younger generation championing a home-grown, local community group such as Tagadere via their enthusiastic high visibility.


Tagadere applauds everyone involved with Team Timber with genuine respect for their wonderful achievements.





Tagadere invited to attend to see Team Timber receive awards.


On 25th September a trio of Tagadere representatives were proud to observe the fabulous efforts of Team Timber being commended by the National Citizens Scheme at an awards ceremony which was held in the Robin Hood Suite at the Nottingham Forest City Ground.

 

Team Timber began the proceedings, explaining how they supported, promoted and fundraised for Tagadere whilst simultaneously raising awareness of HIV amongst the public of Nottingham. We were delighted when, following the reading of a statement of congratulations and thanks from Tagadere, we were invited to present certificates to each Team Timber member.





Making the effort

It was surprising to learn that from the five recipients of the fundraising which resulted from the considerable hard work involved in each of the five individual schemes, only Tagadere had bothered to make the effort to be present at the ceremony.


For us it was an honour to be asked to attend the event and to ignore the invitation was not an option.  It was a joy to meet Team Timber and to have the opportunity to put individual faces to a collective name. When Team Timber told us that they were impressed that Tagadere had actually made the effort to attend was the icing on the cake for us.


Team Timber had created and successfully completed a project which must have been arduous at some time; we were told of some negative and hostile reactions when people realised that Team Timber were operating on behalf of a local HIV support group.


Such ignorant attitudes continue to ensure that HIV remains stigmatised by the majority of the population who remain unaware of the facts surrounding HIV due to non-existent public awareness campaigns. Tagadere feel that this is something which could be easily addressed by those who hold the strings to purses containing healthy monetary resources.




Educate yourself!


We learned of some of the social challenges which Team Timber were presented with; many verbal assaults which HIV positive people frequently experience. Upon receiving detrimental remarks which were largely based on outdated sexual stereotypes the concise Team Timber reply was 'Educate yourself!' 


Sometimes complacency needs to be stirred up in order to progress. Team Timber achieved this via their confident appearances in the public arena, educating and breaking taboos about people living with HIV and informing the local populace about Tagadere whilst successfully challenging outdated thinking.



Onesies


Many people are used to seeing young citizens in supermarkets completing bag packs in aid of charities; often those charities have high media profiles or do not challenge what people are comfortable with.


For Team Timber to promote a small local HIV charity speaks volumes when larger, more publicly visible and 'acceptable' conditions are well represented in mass media. A kitten or a puppy with a bandaged paw is easier to consider cuddling than a person living with HIV.

 

A group of 16-17 year olds packing bags whilst wearing ‘onesies’ on possibly the hottest day of summer draws attention which is projected upon the cause for whom they are fundraising. For shoppers to realise that the charity which Team Timber represented was not only an HIV charity but most importantly a local HIV charity run by volunteers was the thin end of the wedge in relaying the message that HIV is still around and not mentioned unless in embarrassed, judgemental terms.


Our feeling is that by Team Timber proudly stating what Tagadere is and why they fundraised for us, combined with three people representing a local volunteer run HIV support group to the audience of parents and supporters was a constructive move to place HIV and Tagadere into the consciousness of the people of Nottingham.




Motivation and enthusiasm


Amidst the post-awards jubilations it was hard to answer the intelligent questions from Team Timber and also ask them many questions about the motivation behind their sterling efforts. We are delighted that members showed great enthusiasm to the idea of visiting our drop-in to share with a larger group of Tagadere members why and how their initiative produced such empowering results on behalf of Tagadere. 


The fundraising activities which Team Timber created have provided us with a wonderful new laptop and a projector which will be an absolute bonus to have at our weekly drop-in. 


Breaking down barriers and reducing stigma about HIV is what is always needed. Team Timber successfully achieved this with their unique and imaginative efforts. We are extremely proud to have been chosen by such a wonderful group as Team Timber and thank them sincerely – we think you’re all fabulous!




How Tagadere inspires others to achieve


We received the following inspiring letter from NCS Team Timber member Nicole:


‘I am so glad we all chose Tagadere as our chosen charity. Just knowing the impact it has had, I feel it is the biggest achievement of my life and I am sure the whole of Team Timber feel the same way. Seeing you in person was great as we did not know you were attending & just seeing how it's benefited the charity is breath taking! 


Yeah we came across some put downs but that didn't stop us & it would be lovely to come to a drop in & hopefully continue making a difference. Thank you so much for attending the graduation & your kind words.


It has just motivated me in many ways knowing that no matter what, you may come across put downs but you can still come out on top! So thank you again for letting Team Timber work with such an amazing charity.’




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The incredible project which Team Timber undertook to support Tagadere and raise awareness of HIV is such an achievement we feel that it deserves its own page.

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