Watch This Space

When I first started out on this (considering YouTube, TikTok and the seasoned Instagram influencers what feels like a very retro) blog writing journey, I’d made a deal to myself that’d I’d post something at least once a week. Almost instantaneously unable to keep that up (sound familiar?), posting slipped to once a month, and now, here we are, over 2 months since I last put pen to paper, or at least, fingers to keys. Hopefully however, that at least gives me something to write about in the next 500 words. Last week, we finally, after months of uncertainty got the confirmed news that the airline was no longer planning to make any of us redundant. Apart from a 3-week reprieve in October, many of us had been at risk since August: more than 9 months of uncertainty. I hadn’t quite realised just how heavy the uncertainty had weighed, until it was removed. I felt like I was a walking on air for the rest of the week and had a spring in my step on my next flying duty; not least because there was a queue at security, I was able to nab a scootch of Chanel Bleu on the way through Duty Free and buy the crew a Starbucks for the first time in over a year. Things aren’t back to normal by any stretch of the imagination. I can still park far too easily in the car park and there’s still no fight for a clearance or pushback. For a regional carrier like us though, it certainly feels that there is light at the end at the tunnel. A few months back however, that light was difficult to see. To that end and to mitigate against an already precarious pre-furlough balance sheet (a situation all too familiar to those just starting out in the industry), I decided to get a second job. That job has come in the form of running a regional COVID-19 testing centre, just outside of Glasgow. There are over 40 people in my team from all walks of life; salesmen, hairdressers, publicans, cabin crew, students, to name but a few! It’s been great to engage that “leading a big team” bit of the brain again, and incredibly rewarding to see a group of total strangers become a wee (albeit sometimes dysfunctional) family. We’re all here not just to pay the bills, but to feel both productive whilst on furlough and part of the bigger picture that hopefully helps get us to the new normal sooner rather than later. Part of that new normal for me has been getting back on the HIV campaign trail. Sound bites like “there’s still a job to do” are worth nothing unless the job is getting done. It was an absolute honour and privilege to meet and work with Gareth Thomas CBE, Becky Mitchell MBE and Ian Green CEO of the Terrance Higgins Trust, as part of the Tackle HIV campaign last month. Before the Tackle HIV media day, in all honestly, I’d lost my mojo. I was recently told that “HIV is a diagnosis, not a qualification” and that “the world doesn’t need another privileged, white, cis-gendered man speaking out about HIV”. Since the media day, I’ve decided to rebuke both, and vociferously so. Why? First, nobody needs a qualification to share their own story. In fact, who could be more qualified than you, to speak your truth?! Second, there’s no such thing as a bad advocate for HIV. The world needs more! The more people that speak-out, the faster we reach everyone else, and get the crucial message out there that a person living with HIV on successful treatment can’t pass the virus on to their partner. Just 20% of people in the UK know it, and our job as advocates is to help get us to 100% and eradicate the stigma that still exists surrounding the virus. So, with that in mind, an exciting summer of advocacy lies ahead: watch this space!

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