September Taking Part Workshop was lead by Winnie Ssseruma.
” I was born in the UK, brought up in Uganda and studied Sociology in the US. I have worked for a number of organisations in the UK including Positive East, HIV i-base, Partners in Evaluation and more recently Christian Aid. I initiated FFENA, a network that enables African people living with HIV in the UK to engage on issues at policy level. I have spoken at the UN in New York, and I continue to speak out in the media and to write articles in various publications about the on-going challenges for people living with HIV. I have been living with HIV for 25 years.”
Obviously we were really excited to have her, and the workshop didn’t disappoint us. Winnie had a very relaxed and participatory approach. She shared her experience of speaking at a TED talk. How nerve-wracking it was, but how in spite of the nerves she focused all her energy in telling her story in an honest and open way, so that prejudices about HIV and AIDS could be challenged.
We then watched 3 short TED talks. They are 3 minutes each and are a good example of how one can deliver a clear and powerful message within such a short time
Stacey Kramer: The Best Gift I Ever Survived
Richard St John: 8 Secrets to Success
Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement
We had an animated discussion about what we liked and what we didn’t like about the talks. We focused on trying to unpack what makes ‘Good’ public speaking. I was quite surprised that Taking Parters were really critical of the TED talks. It made me wonder if it was a way of expressing some of the anxieties we all have about public speaking.
We t followed the discussion with an hilarious role play exercise about being on a lift in the Shard – a famous London sky scraper – with a stranger we really wanted to talk to . We had 30 seconds to approach the person. How would we break the ice? How would we grab his or her attention? It was as cringe worthy as role play can be , but it gave us a good sense of going out of our comfort zone, conquer our nerves grabbing somebody’s attention, and the use of body language, which are all critical skills during public speaking.
The talk is entitled ” Stepping Up The Pace for Trans People, Gay Men and Men who have Sex with Men ” and had a standing ovation at the conference.
It starts at 1:44 in the video.
Following the video we had a discussion on our approach to public speaking as HIV positive people , especially what issues we should be focusing on.
We closed the workshop by giving a 30 second statement on what are the most important issues for us, as people living with HIV in the UK.
The issues identified were:
- addressing mental health issues of people living with HIV
- breaking the individual isolation
- looking into how to better tackle denial
- sexual education of young people living with HIV has been neglected
- continuing to address HIV related stigma and within that really tackling self stigma
- we know the benefits of HIV treatment but some people still don’t have access to treatment. We need to continue to advocate for that. In addition we need to improve health care systems
- stigma, gender issues and the rights of marginalized populations
- we will not end HIV through treatment alone. Addressing stigma and making sure that people have social support and opportunities to be involved is crucial.