The SHM Foundation in partnership with Body & Soul ran a pilot that created support networks for parents of HIV-positive children in London. Body & Soul is a pioneering charity working with children, young people and families who are living with, or are closely affected by, HIV in the UK. The organisation provides structured support sessions where members can meet others affected by HIV and exchange vital support and information.
HIV can have a profound impact on families. Parents of HIV-positive children often need social support and practical information to care effectively for a child living with HIV. These parents are often unable to have these needs adequately addressed in a traditional support-service setting due to logistical strains associated with parenting and social isolation.
The pilot aimed to determine whether it was feasible and beneficial for SMS messaging to be used by parents of HIV-positive children to meet the following objectives:
Create social support and reduce isolation
Enhance ability to parent positive children
Improve participant wellbeing
There were a number of important findings from the pilot. Firstly it helped to enable a sense of belonging amongst the group members, providing a network where the members felt connected to each other due to the similar experiences that they were facing. Secondly, it helped to provide a safety net for the participants, providing reassurance and connection with others, knowing that they could communicate with their group when they needed to. Parenting was an important topic that the participants discussed in their group along with messages in relation to social support. Please click here to see the full findings report.
Image by Body&Soul