I'm Chantelle and I work for BHA For Equality, a charity which seeks to address health and social care inequalities amongst non-white British communities.
BHA is part of the PaSH partnership, and part of my work is HIV prevention. I work in sexual health within the community and across Greater Manchester.
It's International Women's month, and the theme is Providing Healing and Promoting Hope.
My work is about supplying people with knowledge and awareness so people can make informed choices and decisions when it does come to their sexual health. The behaviour change I see is really rewarding, professionally and personally.
When I work with women, I feel that the knowledge I am empowering them with is healing.
People often speak about how non-white British communities are hard to reach, but I find women are actually quite receptive when I am out in the community doing my work. By going out into the community - where people are going about their everyday lives - that's where I'm able to have those interactions.
Women have come to BHA For Equality because they’ve heard from a friend that we offer testing and prevention services. It’s good to see the ripple effect of our work in the community, and I think it’s testament to the work we do and how we interact with the women in the community.
It’s amazing when women in the community know that HIV and other sexual health testing is here for them. They know that we can coach people through the process, we can do the test and let you know the result right away. We can tell you about other options if you don't want to do it right away. My work helps women make choices.
Women can see ourselves as strong figures, who hold things together whilst doing lots of things for other people and managing a lot of stuff at once.
I think it's important that women know that keeping on top of your sexual health is an important part of self-care too.
Sexual health is so important. Your physical, emotional, spiritual needs all need to be met to live a happy, fulfilled life, and sexual health is one of these needs. Sometimes we don't talk about it much in the open as there is some stigma and taboos. We've got to keep this conversation going though because it will become better and easier if we do. Women and men need to break that silence with our children in the next generation.
The healing I hope my work provides also goes both ways.
I learn things from the women I work with. I sometimes have conversations that come out of a sexual health chat which make me sit and reflect on. This can be healing for me because these women inspire me and make me want to adapt some of their qualities into my personal and professional life.
Chantelle, Sexual Health Advisor & Inclusion Lead at BHA For Equality.
March 5th 2022