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A special message from our international patron, Desmond Tutu on World AIDS Day

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, LASS’s International Patron has sent a special video message from Cape Town to mark 1st December, World AIDS Day, for LASS.

“God, you love us all especially those of your children who suffer. We think at this time on Worlds AIDS Day of those who have HIV/AIDS. Help them not to despair, help those who work to combat this pandemic. Thank you that it is reducing. May those who are ill take their treatment regularly”

-Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu (November 2013)

LASS is a service user and volunteer charitable agency which works to prevent the spread of HIV and to promote positive sexual health through education, training, and community initiatives. By working together with other agencies, we play a major part in developing a coordinated response to the challenges of HIV/AIDS. We provide support for HIV positive people and HIV education and awareness across the communities.

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Archbishop Tutu, LASS International Patron, gives 3 key messages for World AIDS Day

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has sent a special video message from Cape Town to mark 1st December, World AIDS Day, and the 25th Anniversary of a Leicester charity providing support for HIV positive people and HIV education and awareness across the communities.

The Archbishop, who earlier this year became International Patron of LASS (Leicestershire AIDS Support Services), has three key messages for the people of Leicester and around the world. Firstly he says that you should put your mind at ease and know your HIV status. Secondly he says that together we can all reduce the stigma about HIV. Finally he gives a special message for everyone living with HIV that ‘We thank God for the medical practitioners and researchers and carers who are seized with the task of supporting, loving and healing. We place our faith in God to maintain our spirit. And we place our trust in our medical and support services to keep our bodies well.’

Jenny Hand, CEO at LASS, says: “These messages from such a globally renowned leader will help us so much to make a difference to the lives of many people, locally and further afield. It is our 25th year and we still have so much to do to change people’s attitudes and understanding about HIV, to make it possible for people living with HIV to have lives free from stigma and discrimination. National HIV testing week is 23rd to 28th November this year – when everyone working in the field of HIV is encouraging people to get tested and know their HIV status. Archbishop Tutu’s message will provide encouragement and support to this campaign.”

LASS, HIV 25 years on …. And it won’t go away

LASS is marking its 25th anniversary with a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to create an archive and to publish a history of the organisation – “…and it won’t go away” – 25 Years of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services – based on interviews with founders, volunteers, staff, Trustees and people living with HIV from across the 25 years of its existence. “This is a ground breaking publication of national significance,” said Jenny Hand. “It charts the response of the people of Leicestershire to the arrival of HIV and AIDS and reveals the significant changes for HIV locally and nationally as well as for LASS, and people living with HIV. We hope that our publication and the work we continue to do does justice to the lives of the many people who died with AIDS in the early years.”

The book is being launched on 30 November and copies will be available to download free from the website http://www.lass.org.uk after that date. Hard copies can be ordered from reception@lass.org.uk at a cost of £2.50 to cover postage and packing. (Update, it’s launched! Click here)

LASS will also be celebrating World AIDS Day with a fundraising concert at the Leicester YMCA on Saturday 1st December with four live bands including the multicultural UK dub and roots band CounterAction, Multimorph, Sleeping through Rapture and George Sandersun. More details are available here

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LASS History Project

It’s been an exciting time for LASS recently, Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently became our international patron and as we countdown to our 25th anniversary, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades by providing a historical overview of HIV and AIDS in world.

LASS has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a history project to mark our  25th anniversary year.  The project will create an archive, publication and mobile exhibition materials to capture the stories and experiences of people involved in LASS’s work over the past 25 years.

In doing so, we hope to raise awareness of the changing issues in responding to HIV and to challenge persistent myths and stereotypes. The work will take place over the next nine months, with the publication launched for World AIDS Day 2012.

The LASS History Project will record the changing experiences of people affected by HIV over the years, while highlighting the extent to which HIV continues to disproportionately affect the most marginalised. It will document and celebrate the way people in Leicester came together to respond to the new virus and will capture changes in attitudes, demography and health outcomes over the past 25 years. It will highlight the distinctive characteristics of LASS, which include our location in the ethnically and culturally diverse city of Leicester and changes in our client group over the years.

While we will show that HIV remains a significant local issue – with Leicester experiencing the 6th highest rising rate of infection in the country – we will also celebrate the improved life expectancy of people with HIV, and show how LASS has evolved to meet changing needs and demands on our services.

There are three main aspects to the project, all of which will offer volunteers opportunities to become involved.  Working with the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, we will organise and digitise LASS’s records, documents and photographs – currently held in various filing cabinets – to create a coherent archive lodged with Leicestershire Record Office and available online.

We will produce a publication documenting the history of LASS. This will be based on interviews with those involved with LASS, including service users and their families/partners, staff and volunteers, health professionals and partner organisations – one interview for each of the 25 years – to provide a 360 degrees perspective.

These interviews will be placed in the context of local, national and global developments. Drawing on the archive and publication, we will create a set of mobile exhibition materials for use at different venues in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Throughout the project we will work with other organisations to ensure that the project and its outputs involves and reaches a wide range of people, including targeted specific groups such as young people, LGBT people and African communities.

The project will offer volunteers a range of different opportunities to take part, including helping create the archive, research, carrying out and transcribing or summarising the interviews, and promoting and publicising the project. Volunteers will receive training – for instance in archive work, oral history interviews or media skills – and, depending on their roles, will develop a range of skills including documentation and research, interviewing and sound recording, media and presentation skills, and use of a range of Microsoft packages such as Word and Excel.

If you would like to volunteer for the project, please email tom@lass.org.uk for more details

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