The Collective Impact Network (CIN) is a Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) sponsored initiative, being co-led by PAN acting as the backbone. It consists of the six PHSA-contracted agencies that are supporting the community-based response to HIV and HCV, alongside the PHSA, and including the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and BC Women’s Hospital.
The goal of the CIN is to facilitate collaboration on priority areas that will best support people living with HIV and HCV and the frontline organizations that serve them. We are featuring blogs on each agency in the CIN and what they bring to the CIN… so you can get to know them, hear some stories and meet the people!
Tom McAulay, Vice-Chair Board of Directors, Positive Living BC
Positive Living BC is a consumer-based, member directed and driven community based organization with over 5800 members-of-record living with HIV. We seek to empower persons living with HIV disease and AIDS through mutual support and collective action. Positive Living BC is the living embodiment of the GIPA/MIPA Principles – that is the “greater and meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.”
Personally, what led you into taking on your role?
Because I am living with HIV, and the Positive Living BC Board of Directors is composed entirely of people living with HIV, I have both time and skill to volunteer at a Board of Directors level. That is it simply put: the more complex reasons include the desire to contribute to the greater good of my community, a kind of karmic payback to society for the generosity of our social welfare systems and structures that have played a significant role in my long term survival living with HIV and, after living with HIV for 30+ years and finally realizing 3 years ago that I do indeed have a future, I needed to see if I could still contribute meaningfully to society.
Can you tell a story that excites you about the impact your work is having?
I could tell the story of my life and that would illustrate the impact of my work without question. However, I am going to instead talk about the impact of our work on another individual as I witnessed it on one of our Loon Lake Healing Retreats. These retreats take around 30 people living with HIV into the great natural beauty of BC’s mountains for a 3 day weekend of adventures, great food, socializing with fellow HIV+ people, group counselling sessions and body work healing (massage, etc). One person I met in my group session arrived at Loon Lake timid, wary and (dare I say) afraid. This person had been living with HIV for a decade and nobody, not one close friend nor family member, knew of their diagnosis. This was an often miserable and always lonely way to survive with HIV. Imagine, never having anyone close to you to talk with about what you are going through. Well, by the 3rd day of this retreat this person had made several new friends and even one they significantly bonded to. What a beautiful sight to watch this person blossom and shine in front of our eyes. This individual was literally not the same person leaving as who had arrived.
What is the unique value that your agency brings to the Collective Impact Network (CIN) and its priority areas?
The fact that Positive Living BC is an organization of, by and for people living with HIV, and our consequent unwavering determination to defend and advance the interests and well-being of people living with HIV. Given the Collective Impact Network exists to coordinate the efforts of a variety of organizations in addressing the needs and concerns of people living with HIV and HCV, Positive Living BC is uniquely placed to both aid in identifying what those needs and concerns are, and in determining how best they ought to be addressed.
So far, what have you learnt – or how has your work been enhanced – by being a part of the network?
I’m not sure. We’ve learned a bit more about a couple of the Network member organizations than we knew before. And we’ve learned a bit about the theory of Collective Impact. (And we’ve learned that the number of reports, questionnaires and surveys we’re required to respond to has gone up significantly.) As for the enhancement of our work, that doesn’t seem yet to have occurred because of our membership in the CIN – although apparently there have been instances in the individual organizations’ activity reports where possible areas for co-operation and joint activity have been spotted.
How can (and why should) readers get involved with your organization?
There are two basic ways for people to get involved with Positive Living BC – volunteer for us and/or donate towards any one or all of our programs and services for people living with HIV disease. There are many different ways to donate to Positive Living BC; learn how here. And anyone can volunteer at Positive Living BC, however, some volunteer opportunities, such as the Board of Directors, are restricted to HIV+ members of the organization. Volunteer opportunities abound at Positive Living BC, from specialist/professional activities, such as yoga and hair cutting, to clerical type assignments to event generated activities, such as at the AIDS Walk. You don’t have to be HIV+ to volunteer at Positive Living BC, you only need to care about people and want to contribute to the well-being and nurturing of people who can use your help. Learn more about volunteering – including currently available volunteer positions.
Positive Living BC is the largest HIV/AIDS organization west of Toronto and one of the most dynamic, forward-looking and effective consumer-based health organizations on the planet. Supporting and/or working with Positive Living BC, you’ll learn a lot, meet some great people and have fun!
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Simon Goff, Executive Assistant and Collective Impact Coordinator, [email protected]