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Peer Support Groups

Peer Support Groups provide an opportunity for service users to come together to share experiences and to give support, understanding and friendship to one another in a safe and comfortable environment. The groups are run by services users for service users of The Eddystone Trust.

A member of staff is available at each session to provide support and information.

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(Images taken from client conference event 2011: representing HIV positive peoples views of being HIV positive)

Guest speakers are arranged to speak about specific issues these include General Practitioners (GPs), Health Advisors, Pharmacists, and Money Management with Citizens Advice.


EXETER – GATEWAY GROUP

The Gateway Group is a long standing peer support group that meets in Exeter on the third Monday of every month between 1.30pm and 4pm.The group is attended by people living with HIV from across the South West. Everyone is welcome.

“It’s given me a sense of confidence that I’m not alone. There’s a sense of community, a shared experience, that I don’t usually feel as I keep my health condition to myself.”

 “Some of the information is way too technical for the average person – the Gateway Group is a social gathering which also offers support, information and knowledge about medication in a safe environment. I got to know other people and we swap day to day tips on living with HIV”

 “I thought it was just me until I arrived here (at the Gateway Group) – it’s not just the HIV bit it’s all the other bits we talk about”

“You sometimes hear bad stories about HIV but it’s a very individual thing and if you keep taking your medication life’s good!”

 “I heard about Gateway Group from my nurse. She suggested I go along as I was feeling low. I met other people in the same situation as me. I’d like other people to know how much more positive it’s made me feel.”

The next dates for the Gateway Group are Monday 21st July,  Monday 11th August (due to bank holiday and annual leave) and Monday 15th Sept  1.30pm til 4pm.

Contact Maria Cox if you are interested in joining us then please e-mail or call us: maria@eddystone.org.uk or call 01752 254406 / 08003282508

Maria Cox, Devon Client Support Worker can be contacted on: maria@eddystone.org.uk or call the office on 0800 328 3508 / 01752 254406

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SOMERSET

P.E.G.S. (Positive Empathy Group)

PEGS (Positive Empathy Group Somerset) have been meeting monthly for a number of years in Taunton. People mainly attend PEGS from the Yeovil, Glastonbury and Taunton areas.

We are an expanding group, new faces appearing at each one of the last four get-togethers, and as well as sharing the highs and lows of living with the virus, we have had various quests with professional involvement in HIV come to speak with us. In recent months these have included a G.P, two different people from the National AIDS Trust in London and a complementary therapist. More guests are planned but not for each month; the main emphasis being on mutual support in safe surroundings, with food!

“When I first found out I was positive, I felt an almost overwhelming need to connect with other people who were living with the virus, and so I logged on to google and typed in “HIV in Somerset.” Eddystone appeared on my screen and I quickly wrote an email explaining my situation. 

After a pleasant & secure meeting in a coffee shop in my home town I met Annie, who is extremely friendly and knowledgable and, I was very pleased & relieved to find, presented opportunities to meet others in my situation, and many facilities to offer me and my HIV negative husband as well. 

I joined the local peer support meeting in Taunton, went to some drop in meets in Street, at which both of us were readily welcomed and accepted as part of this positive community within our community. 

Listening to other peoples experiences, many of whom had been diagnosed for a much longer time than I, and also chatting with fellow members who were recently diagnosed as I was, became extraordinarily helpful to me. Both in terms of getting to grips with my own diagnosis emotionally, and as a huge support for my partner as well. What was most inspiring we found was the message of hope for our future, and how important having a support network of people who are travelling along the same path as we were actually was to us. 

I was offered therapies that have proved invaluable to me as the treatment of my virus has progressed, managing stress through massage and acupuncture. These have helped enormously, alleviating new symptoms that I have experienced. 

Without taking that first step, and receiving the help and guidance of the trust, I believe I would have been unable to so quickly come to terms with my new status, and I am very thankful and pleased that I did reach out, and was so warmly received and accepted.       Not feeling & being alone on this daunting journey has proved to be a great relief and a huge source of comfort to me, to both of us.” 

Contact Annie Parker if you are interested in joining us….

  • Taunton GU Outreach now runs every Monday from 9.30 to 1pm, therapies available on 2nd and 4th Monday (need to speak to Annie in advance please)

Annie Parker, Somerset Client Support worker can be contacted on: anne@eddystone.org.uk or call 0800 3283508 /  01752 254406

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NORTH DEVON

The Castle Group (North Devon Peer Support Group) meets every other month on a Friday evening between 6pm to 9pm. This group provides and opportunity for people to meet in a comfortable, relaxed and confidential space. Please bring snacks to share.

“We have open forum discussions in a relaxed, unpressured atmosphere. We also have lots of fun and laughter. Everyone is welcomed and made to feel at home, and many friendships have been forged already. We would love you to join us…..”

Contact Helen Jackson if you are interested in joining us….

Helen Jackson, Community HIV worker can be contacted on: helen@eddystone.org.uk 07587 638823 or 0800 3283508 / 01752 254406

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Plymouth Peer Support

The Plymouth Peer Support Group meet in Plymouth every fourth Tuesday of the month between 4pm and 6pm.The group is attended by people living with HIV from across Plymouth but is open to all people who are registered with The Eddystone Trust.  Refreshments are provided.

Contact Maureen Bromage for further information maureen@eddystone.org.uk or call 0800 3283508 or 01752 254406

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