Brighton HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust is encouraging applicants for its Work Positive programme encouraging HIV positive people back into work.
The scheme has successfully got 77 people living with HIV back to work, including one part-time worker at its offices in Brighton.
Michael Brimacombe who was diagnosed with HIV back in December 1991 took part in the Work Positive programme in 2016/17. He is now in part-time employment as a social care support coordinator.
And he is hoping that more people like him will apply for the next round of the scheme.
Michael said: “I had no idea how to get back into the workplace. The two lengthy periods out of work, the gaps in my employment history and my age being over 50, were also negative points working against me. Then there was my HIV status.
“Did I have to disclose my status to an employer? Would an employer let me have regular time off for my regular appointments at the HIV clinic? Would work colleagues would find out about my HIV status?
“The more I thought about these things the more the doubts and fears took over. I knew for my own sanity I had to get out and do something with my life.
“I saw the programme as a step by step learning route to improve my confidence, and learn more about myself. I was also able to learn more about workplace environments whilst building on my CV writing skills. I had an assigned work mentor who was there to offer advice and give me a helping hand.
“For me one of the vital and useful parts of the programme were the regular employment training workshops. At each workshop you gain relevant information, which is delivered by knowledgeable and experienced professionals. It also gave me the chance to catch up with other candidates who offered moral support. Whilst we each had our individual work placements, we uplifted and inspired each other when we came together.
“The programme was invaluable for me. It gave me structure and something to focus on. It has improved my confidence and self-esteem, but most importantly it gave me a new positive outlook on life.”
This programme also gives applicants the opportunity to meet new people, regain confidence and overcome personal mental barriers.
Past participants are now working at a variety of different organisations such as ViiV, BBC, NAZ, Metro, PositivelyUK, Terrence Higgins Trust and the Treasury.
Each year over 90% of participants say they’re more confident in their employability after graduating from the programme.
To find out more about the Work Positive Brighton programme please click here. Applications close 12 August.