Children with HIV….how you can help

By Gill Perkins, CEO Wandsworth Oasis

When Baby Jumble asked me to contribute to their blog, I was honoured and then I thought, what on earth will their supporters want to hear about from the Chief Exec of a small community charity shop chain that raises money for local people with HIV?  I thought I could write about the amazing donations we get that are children and baby related  from antique rocking horses to soiled nappies (yes, really!).  Or I could shamelessly promote our lovely charity baby shop in Mitcham Lane SW16 (but I’ll do that later!).  And then it hit me – why not talk about the work that one of the charities we support does at the coal face with children and babies affected by HIV.

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I recently met with Zetta Thomelin from the fabulous Children with AIDS Charity (CWAC).  Do you ever think about children having HIV?  I confess that even though I work for an HIV related charity I was quite shocked to find that there are more than 19,000 children affected by HIV in the UK.    Zetta described this as  a’ hidden’ group of children living with perinatally acquired HIV, contracted from their mother in the womb, at the point of delivery or shortly after birth, while being breastfed.  A group that was never expected to grow from babies into children, much less teenagers and young adults.  And what’s more, the stigma that society still places on HIV has another, even more unpleasant knock-on effect: it means that children cannot be told of their diagnosis until they are judged to be able to keep it confidential.

I was also humbled by some of the work CWAC  does that I had not heard about.  We provide funding to their worthy hardship fund each year for everyday items such as bedding, clothing etc.  Between January 2010 and April 2012 the fund supported more than 2,300 children affected by HIV.   67% of the children were living with one parent; most of the families have insecure immigration status and are unable to work.  Families are living below the poverty line and are unable to cover the basic needs of their kids.  But I hadn’t known about the large increase in the number of HIV positive women in the UK expecting a baby who are applying to the fund because they cannot afford to provide formula milk for their new child – if they breast feed, there is an extremely high risk that this loving act will transmit HIV.  It costs around £600 to provide formula milk for one year, whereas it costs up to £360,000 for a lifetime supply of HIV treatment.  How fundamentally sad this is on so many levels.

It seems to me that CWAC’s Formula Milk Campaign is a real no brainer in terms of funding, so we really want to try to support this.  Baby Jumble is donating a percentage of its entry takings to Wandsworth Oasis and we will earmark the money for CWAC’s Hardship Fund for Formula Milk.  We will also be supporting their Time for Tea fundraising initiative on 4 October in at least one of our shops.  If you want to support CWAC directly, you can text CWAC21 £3 to 70070 and play your part in protecting a baby from HIV.

Baby Jumble is also donating any stock left over after its sales to us if the original owners are happy with that so I hope this helps to put into context what we do with the physical and cash donations we get from you…And a final plug for our Oasis Kids shop at 127  Mitcham Lane SW16  – it’s a lovely, bright, colourful shop well stocked with toys, clothes and equipment – so do drop in if you want need something for your kids and you can’t find it at Baby Jumble or donate your old stuff to us if you are having a clear out, but don’t want to put it in a sale.  We collect in South West London and sometimes further afield.

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