April 2019
Positively UK

Silvia Petretti, CEO of
Positively UK 

Hello from Silvia, 
Positively UK newly appointed CEO 

It has been a very busy time, and a time of change at Positively UK. I was appointed as Positively UK CEO on 1st of February, just a few weeks before moving premises, and in the middle of organising the I AM HERE Festival and Catwalk4Power events. 

Leaving our space in City Road was emotional as we had been providing peer support on that road for over 20 years. But we are now in bright fully accessible premises, and have a very welcoming training room to continue our groups and trainings.

As the dust settles and we finish unpacking, I feel excited to be in the position to lead the organisation. For those who don’t know me, I have been involved in providing peer lead services for over 20 years; my expertise ranges from providing outreach services in prison to running a national network of women with HIV, and of course activism, ensuring that people with HIV can influence policy. I am also a trainer, a public speaker and a yoga teacher. As a woman who has lived with HIV for 22 years, and involved in the provision of peer support for two decades, I know for a fact that peer support not only is an incredible tool to learn how to manage our health and improve our lives, but it is also a way of strengthening our communities and promoting social change and justice. 

Looking ahead it is an exciting and challenging time. Our hard work has been paying off and new HIV diagnosis have been in steep decline for a number of years, U=U, Undetectable equals Untransmittable campaign is spreading it’s message that people with HIV who are on effective treatment cannot give HIV to their sexual partners. However, we know that in spite of the good news many people with HIV are still struggling to have a good quality of life, and often are isolated and have to cope with the burden of stigma and secrecy. Our communities have very high levels of mental health issues, drug and alcohol use, alongside managing other complex health conditions, especially as we get older. 

A huge challenge ahead is that in May funding for Project 100, our national peer mentoring training programme, will end. This is pushing us to exploring new ways in which we can support this work. It is crucial that we continue to collaborate with HIV organisations and clinics nationally to continue provide training, support and networking opportunities to all people with HIV providing peer support. As the project folds in its current form please watch out for training opportunities in London, Oxford, Leeds and Manchester. 

This year Positively UK is also exploring innovative ways of providing peer support, which can complement one-to-one peer mentoring, such as The Seeds Project, which combines gardening, nutrition and exercise in an outdoor peer facilitated setting, and the Catwalk4Power, another peer lead initiative which harnesses women’s creativity and performance skills to increase confidence and challenge HIV stigma. 

Positively UK will continue reaching out to those most vulnerable, who still don’t have the confidence to come to groups, through outreach in 11 London clinics; I am very proud that our outreach team includes two youth peer worker, who are planning many activities targeting young people with HIV in the spring and summer. 

In my leadership role at Positively UK I continue to be committed  to engage, listen and involve people living with HIV in influencing all decisions that affect us, so we can feel in control of our lives and connected with each other. Positively UK will continue advocating for quality of life and zero stigma through the Changing Perceptions campaign and training new advocates. Please watch this space for opportunities to take part. If you would like to be involved please email

Silvia Petretti, CEO


Our new address is 
St Marks Studios,
4 Chillingworth Road,
Islington, N7 8QJ

Our phone line remains the same: 
020 7713 0444
Are you over 50? Discover the hidden gems of Kings Cross with our Seeds Project 
The Seeds Project for people over 50 is a partnership between Positively UKCalthorpe ProjectThe Food Chain and YMCA Positive Health, coordinated by the passionate horticulture, nature interpreter and garden designer Virginia Cucchi. 

The first gardening session was held on 27 March at the Calthorpe Project (Kings Cross) and was facilitated by the horticultural therapist Mila Campoy (Calthorpe Project). The afternoon turned out to be a lovely outing where eight of us - horticulture enthusiasts and outdoor lovers - sowed vegetables and flowers - onion, chard and nasturtium. We made cuttings of perennial plants like salvia and penstemon. We drank aromatic mint tea, freshly harvested by us!

The community garden is hosting our open-air yoga and exercise classes too. Later in the year, we will meet regularly for cooking workshops, nutrition advice and wellbeing workshops. 

"If we loose touch with our sources, we are in danger of loosing hope. That is why it is so important to stay close to nature, to listen to how the trees and flowers, potatoes and hedges, shrubs and bulbs grow in silence." Sister Stan, Gardening the Soul 

Over 50 and interested in joining in? Please drop Virginia an email to register your interest at 
Poz Futures launch their first social!
Thursday 28th April 2019. Poz Futures, Positively UK’s Youth Project are having their first social event in conjunction with Bloomsbury Patient Network.

It’s one of many to come. This social was specifically for those ages 18-30. Its purpose was to create a space for young adults living with HIV to connect, network and create friendship groups. The group discussed some of the challenges young people with HIV are dealing with, and afterwards headed for some tasty Brazilian food.

For the first event, it was definitely a successful one. Attendees mentioned that they would like more regular socials like this. The next one? We are planning to gather and watch some footage on life beyond HIV.  

“I was so scared and nervous to attend the social, coming from Hillingdon – I talked myself out of coming many times. In the end, I decided to come. It was out of my comfort zone as I am naturally an introvert and very shy, but I am SO glad I came. I arrived, and everyone was so friendly, and they made me feel very relaxed. All the conversations we had and shared were very enlightening. It’s great to have a space to meet other people living with HIV and hear their stories and experiences. I can’t wait to attend more socials and hopefully make lifelong friends!” – Lucy, 26

If you are a young person and the Pos Futures  socials interest you, please do drop an email to and let us know!
8-9 MARCH 2019
One in three people living with HIV in England and Wales is are women (Public Health England). On International Women's Day our team drew together women living with HIV from different backgrounds to celebrate living happily with HIV. The I AM HERE festival, generously hosted by our friends from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, turned into a melting pot for female activists and speakers talking about their personal experience with activism and leadership. Watch out the space - the next Catwalk4Power will be held during the AIDS impact conference on 29 July. The Catwalk is also going to Brighton in September and Manchester in December. 
Moongazing experience, 18 February
Positively UK's women's team is hosting various workshops focusing on leadership, self-care and empowerment.

At the end of March women living with HIV attended our Back to Work Workshop where they received up to date information about benefits entitlements and practiced their CV writing and job interview skills.

Our collaboration with Lumen led to the though-provoking moonglazing experience, where women living with HIV gathered to look at the moon and stars through telescopes, telling stories from their past experiences, families and homelands.
"Memories.... yes sweet memories. On that day as I sat with the other ladies, most of them coming from Africa, we realised we had the same culture and experience so we started telling stories and we also danced around the fire. In Africa you can see the moon very clearly but here we had to use the telescope to see the moon and the experience was breath taking, one was years back in Africa and the other one happened on 18 February 2019 in Bethnal Green.... Memories indeed" participant at the Moongazing event 
in March we welcomed Horcelies, our new Youth Caseworker, and Virginia, who will be managing The Seeds Project
Virginia Cucchi, The Seeds Project Coordinator
Virginia Cucchi obtained a university degree in horticulture in her native Buenos Aires, and has been involved in many gardening projects ever since. She has been living openly with her HIV status for a few years now.
"Before that I was feeling that I had a double life, as I am a very honest and open person and I didn't like to hide that part of my life". Virginia
Virginia started advocating for women and heterosexual people living with HIV when she moved to the UK. She is involved in many initiatives - from grass-root activism to policy forums and health research. Take a peek into the life of this positive gardener here
Horcelie, our new Youth Project Coordinator, is passionate about youth development, especially in the health sector. Volunteering in South Africa and touring throughout the UK to campaign to end AIDS, has lead her to support young people living with HIV.  As a young person herself, she believes in the power of empowering and developing other young people to reach their potential.
"If you empower a young person, you empower a nation" - this is a quote from a young person living with HIV, whom I missed a chance to campaign with. But hearing this gave me the confidence to influence young people in a positive way". Horcelie
A Day in the Life of a Project 100 Trainer
“The challenge is not to be perfect, it’s to be whole”

Project 100 was set up to provide all people living with HIV access to peer support, wherever they live in the UK and at any point after diagnosis. Becky, our resourceful  Project 100 trainer, has been training people with HIV to support others living with the virus since 2017. She is sharing insights of the life of a Project 100 trainer here.

"I remember sitting in the group learning all this for the first time. I found it fascinating, I drank it in. The first couple of times I delivered this I felt flustered, that I would be picked apart if I made any mistakes. When in reality participants sit there just as engaged as I was, drinking in all the information. I explain things the way my trainer explained them to me, I add in some new analogies of my own. Its tiring but completely worth it". Becky Pang
To date, more than 630 people have been trained as peer mentors through Project 100. The project has engaged over 40 clinics and HIV organisations across the nation, paving the way to embedded peer support in healthcare and support services. 

The last core peer mentor training sessions for this training cycle will be held in April and May in London, Leeds, Manchester and Oxford. For more information or to book your place, please contact 

Gay Men's Wellbeing 
Chris, our Gay Men Project Coordinator, is getting more and more popular. He is keeping the gay men (and himself) busy with regular social and wellness sessions.  

Yoga Nidra Workshop
We had a wonderful first session with Yoga Nidra Teacher Stephan Hein on Wednesday 6 February, leading us through a wonderful experience into the benefits of Yoga Nidra. This class really helps to calm the mind and bring your experience internal which is amazingly beneficial in promoting the mind and body connection. 10 people attended the first class and there will be another four workshops coming up throughout the year so book a place when the dates are released!

Yoga Nidra promotes deep rest and relaxation.The practice calm the nervous system, leading to less stress and better health.

Our taster session in February was received very well, and we are looking to hosting more!
Upcoming events:
Nutrition and HIV Workshop with Daniel O'Shaughnessy, registered nutritionist (mBANT)
The workshop is for anyone living with HIV who want to know how they should be eating for their diagnosis. Not only will we discuss the fundamentals of nutrition, we will look at specific nutrients and foods that are good to get into your diet.

GayTalk Socials
We have our regular drinks social so if you’re feeling like coming out and enjoying a bev or two then grab a light jacket and come and say hey! We would love to see you.  Details above!  If you have any questions of course you can always get in touch at
Take Control, Learn, Connect - 
Recently Diagnosed Workshop

The Recently Diagnosed Workshop is an interactive workshop which takes place over two days for people who are living with HIV for less than three years, run by our statutory team who are also living with HIV.

“I know it’s a little cliché to say that the diagnosis is life-changing, but for me this weekend has been one of the most important meetings I have ever been to. These memories will stay with me for life as this journey begins” – Participant form January 2019

“Very structured, organised and informative. Friendly, lovely layout – and you gave us time to talk” – Participant from January 2019

The next Recently Diagnosed Workshop will be hosted on 26 and 27 April at our new premises, St Marks Studios, 14 Chillingworth Road, N7 8QJ.

For more information or to reserve a place, please email or call 020 7713 0444

Volunteer with us! 

By volunteering your time, you can make a difference to the lives of people living with HIV that we support, and in the community. We are committed to help volunteers build on the skills and experiences that you already have.  We are looking for peer facilitators for our groups and workshops, volunteers with media and communication experience, fundraisers and blog writers.


10 April - Money-wise workshop with Rosa Cabello (for women)
12 - 14 April - Project 100 Core Peer Mentor Training, BHA Leeds Skyline
15, 16, 18 April  - Project 100 Core Peer Mentor Training, Positively UK 
15 April - Film night for women: Hidden Figures at Positively UK
20 April - Emotional Wellbeing and Restorative Yoga for women at Positively UK 
25 April (tbc) - Positive Talks: Emotional Wellbeing and Restorative Yoga for women 
26 - 27 April - Recently Diagnosed Workshop 
26 - 28 April - Project 100 Core Peer Mentor Training, Oxford sexual health clinic
11 - 13 May - Project 100 Core Peer Mentor Training, George House Trust Manchester
22 May: Catwalk4Power first workshop in Brighton: leadership skills at Dorset Gardens 
1 June - Nutrition and HIV Workshop for gay men with the registered nutritionist Daniel O'Shaughnessy
14 June - Women's visit to Freightliners farm 
15 June - Moving with Power: Dance and Movement Workshop (London-based, venue tbc
22 June - Recently Diagnosed Workshop (women-only)

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