Croydon College students were commended for giving up more than 200 hours of their time volunteering to raise awareness of the importance of taking an HIV test to live a healthy life.
Croydon Council organises the annual HIV Testing Week campaign in the borough and, with the help of the students, more than 900 additional people were tested during the week and up to World AIDs Day on 1 December.
Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care, presented each student with a certificate of thanks for their efforts during HIV Testing Week, which took place at the end of last year.
The certificates were recently handed out to mark the end of their academic year at the college.
More than 60 students attending Access level 1, 2 and 3 courses at the college, including nursing and social work, signed up to volunteer. Following training with the council’s public health team, the students were equipped to encourage people out and about in Croydon to find out their HIV status by taking a simple finger-prick test.
Additional HIV testing sites are set up around the borough during the two-week campaign each year in Croydon. Free and confidential HIV testing is available all year at Croydon University Hospital, GP surgeries and other clinical settings.
The students were required to each commit a minimum of four hours to volunteer but some dedicated up to 12 hours to the campaign.
“Volunteering matters because it benefits both the person taking part and the wider community. The sterling effort and commitment from the Croydon College students were integral to the success of our work to get more people in the borough to test for HIV and reduce some of the stigma that still exists around HIV.
“Getting tested for HIV is a quick finger-prick test, with the result available within 15 minutes. Receiving an early diagnosis and treatment can help people to live up to a normal lifespan.”
Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care
Kathleen Hawke, Academic Leader of Access courses at Croydon College: “I am really proud of the students for giving up their time to support this worthwhile initiative. They have learnt a great deal from this experience, including increasing their own knowledge of the HIV virus and the importance of testing regularly. It is not always easy to approach people about this subject matter, but the training they received really helped to boost their confidence to talk to individuals on the street about looking after their health and wellbeing.”
Croydon College student Omotoke Iyabode Amusa, a volunteer during HIV Testing Week: “I cannot thank Croydon Council and Croydon College enough for the opportunity to support HIV Testing Week. I feel proud to be part of a team working with the local community to raise awareness about the importance of knowing your HIV status. It is important to support your community and get involved, and your self-confidence increases too.”