Health Action Charity Organisation (HACO) was established as a charitable organisation in 2003. The charity works to raise awareness of HIV/Aids and other health related illnesses thus providing support to members of African communities within the Kent/Medway area, and works closely with the Medway Public Health Team.
This community-based project was focused on Black African Communities in Medway, particularly those above 45 years, living with HIV and/or taking HIV Antiretroviral drug treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment can cause unwanted side effects like weight gain, depression, feeling low and tired, feeling numb or persistent tingling in the hands and feet. Most of the participants involved in the project were previously isolating them were in isolation as a result of COVID and felt isolated and lonely.
The funding was spent on:
- An instructor who delivered the Zumba exercise classes virtually
- The project coordinator
The funding enabled HACO to support and improve the mental health of their service users who were already battling with living with HIV and unwanted weight gain, coupled with being forced to live in isolation due to the COVID restrictions.
The group looked forward to the Zumba class to do the exercises as well as chatting virtually with other group members.
Taking part in this project at this point in time has really helped me beat loneliness. I don’t know what I would have done. Living alone and not being able to go out of the four walls of your home is madness. Miss A
Challenges & Learnings
- The biggest challenge was not being able to deliver face to face classes due to covid restrictions.
- Some of the participants had no access to the internet and IT equipment. HACO managed to secure funding from other sources to purchase iPads which we distributed to members.
HACO will continue to use both virtual and face to face to deliver their services so that they have one to fall back on in case of any eventuality!
The key learning from this project is that there should always be a plan B and organisations should always learn to adapt to any situation.
Thanks to Kent Sport and Sport England for giving us the opportunity to support our service users and improve their mental health during these difficult times.