Body Positive Dorset was founded by Philip Hawkings in 1986 as a mutual support group that was sought by individuals whose lives had been dramatically changed by contracting HIV, and receiving the associated stigma attached. They began meeting once a month in each others homes and the service we have today was born.
As the organisation expanded, in 1994, a drop-in centre was opened in the Triangle area of Bournemouth. Another organisation, the Sanctuary was also operating in Bournemouth at this time, providing palliative care and respite for people with HIV. Body Positive Dorset worked closely with the Sanctuary until its closure in the late 1990’s. The organisation was also active at a national level making representations to Parliment. This action paved the way for viral load testing to be more widely available.
In 1997 Body Positive Dorset was one of the first HIV charities to secure a grant from the National Lottery, enabling the purchase of the organisations current premises and securing the future of third sector HIV services in Dorset. Permision was sought and granted from Buckingham Palace and the Home Office to name the building after Diana, Princess of Wales, who had shown much compassion to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Diana’s mother, The Hon. Mrs Frances Shand-Kydd unveiled the plaque at the naming ceremony.
Body Positive Dorset evolved to what it is today by the efforts of many individuals who are the unsung heroes of our Queens Award for Voluntary Services 2006. These individauls won the crusade to establish professional and effective HIV services that have stood the test of time and continue to support hundreds of people living with HIV in Dorset. By building on this firm foundation, in the future we aim to continue to support our service users, both existing and new, to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in the community, in business and in schools and to actively promote prevention.