In October 2017, Sophia Forum entered the Aviva Community Fund contest to try to win financial support for our advocacy training events. Competition was fierce, and despite receiving a lot of support from the public, we were unable to secure the full amount we had requested. Nevertheless, we did gain a £100 donation from Aviva, in recognition of the hard work of our trustees and supporters in the face of the Aviva website’s technical difficulties.
The money from Aviva will be added to a growing pot of funds to support advocacy training weekends, known as WISE-UP+ events. WISE-UP+ stands for Women Inspire, Support and Empower – Unleashing Positive Potential. These vital spaces enable women to access a broad range of support, including rights based training, to reduce isolation and create a new cohort of advocates who will go onto deliver for, and train, another generation.
Sophia Forum believes that it is vital to encourage our new advocates and so we are truly grateful to all those who rallied behind us during the Aviva Community Fund public vote. In total the Sophia Forum bid received 662 votes – thank you to everyone who made that possible! By casting votes and sharing the link, you not only helped us to secure funding from Aviva, but also to raise the profile of women living with HIV.
With increasing cuts to public services, it is essential that grass roots organisations like Sophia Forum are able to continue to provide safe, women-led spaces and we want to continue to build on our successful weekend workshops. Our future aims include engaging and working with young women and trans-women; we will also continue to reach older women and cis-women living with HIV.
Next year, the Aviva Community Fund will be back and Sophia Forum will be entering once more. We hope that we can learn from our experiences this year and create an even stronger bid. If you would like to be involved with the Aviva Community Fund in 2018, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can ensure that women living with HIV are given the space and voice needed to change the experiences of all women living with HIV.