Russell Wharton is a gay man in his forties who has been involved with the Aids and HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust since 1993. He's been a "buddy
to sufferers and is now a volunteer on the national helpline
Approximately how much time or money do you give?
On average, I volunteer for four to six hours per week. My time is divided between the Terrence Higgins Trust helpline, training new helpline volunteers and going into hospital clinics to tell people with HIV what services we offer them.
Why did you decide to support the trust?
I had friends who were HIV+ or had died from Aids and felt angry at the lack of response from the Government and the hysterical response from the media to the virus. I felt that I needed to do something positive to combat the stigma, fear and ignorance that surrounded and continues to surround HIV and Aids.
How did you get involved?
I joined as a buddy, i.e. a befriender of someone who has Aids. Later I volunteered for the helpline.
What do you get out of your work?
Being there to listen to people whose lives have been affected by HIV and offer them support is highly satisfying. You may not have all the answers but you can help the callers make choices that are right for them and help them to move forward with their lives. Often the helpline is the only place people feel that they can contact for impartial help.
What has been your most successful way of raising funds?
Selling raffle tickets for prize draws and also speaking at private fundraising events.