Client of the Month – Sahir House

Sahir House’s roots and longstanding expertise will always be HIV. However, the expertise the organisation has developed in supporting people affected by trauma, stigma and discrimination, can now be developed to support others, particularly people identifying as LGBTQI+ and those seeking asylum.

Can you give us an overview of Sahir House and the services it offers? What are some of the key initiatives and programs that are currently underway?

Services we provide (to people living with HIV and the wider LGBTQ+ communities) at Sahir House:

  • Counselling
  • Access to social and peer support groups
  • Support if you are living with HIV
  • Sexual Health Matters – including instant self-testing for HIV
  • LGBTQ+ Asylum support
  • Children & Young Peoples Support
  • Community Engagement
  • Training
  • Key Initiatives & programs – World AIDS Day / HIV Testing Week / Local Pride Events

Sahir House has a rich history that dates back to the 1980s, during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. How has the organisation evolved since its inception to meet the changing needs of the community?

  • Evolved and grown our services to meet the needs of the wider LGBTQ+ communities, and not people who are living with and affected by HIV
  • We have developed our support offer to reach communities seldom heard or supported
  • We have developed our Children & Young Person support offer including counselling and peer support
  • Specialised roles within the team to support the needs faced e.g. asylum & refugee service
  • We offer prevention and training to help create awareness of HIV transmission, medication and reduction of stigma

What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities that Sahir House faces in supporting the LGBTQ+ community and those affected by HIV?

  • Working with folk who have various intersectional needs
  • Bridging the gaps between sectors e.g. being able to develop healthcare sector
  • Challenging stigma, internalised and externalised
  • Boundaries to accessing cis het systems for LGBT+ folk
  • Lack of representation
  • Health disparities
  • Lack of education
  • Lack of services

Your organisation provides an array of services from HIV support to counselling and beyond. Could you tell us more about your LGBTQ+ Asylum Seeker & Refugee Support Service led by Shereen?

LGBTQIA+ Asylum and Refugee support is a essential service that supports often very vulnerable people seeking asylum to navigate the often complex systems in the UK. This often means supporting service users to communicate with the Home Office and managing expectations around the time it can take on a descion from the home office. It can also mean supporting people to find legal representation and gathering crucial evidence that will support their claim for asylum. People are often in poor, insecure, temporary asylum housing that can be unsafe due to identifying as LGBTQIA+. This means support with relocation requests.  Support also includes education and volunteering opportunities, sexual and physical health and referrals into counselling and peer support. A lot of LGBTQIA+ service users have been the victim of some form of hate crime which often needs to be encouraged to be reported and followed up.

With such a wide range of services and support offered, what would you say is Sahir House’s primary mission and goal?

Our mission is to deliver services that will guarantee better sexual health and wellness for all and serve the needs of LGBTQIA+ folk across Merseyside.

Sahir House is not just an organisation but also a community. Could you tell us about some of the feedback you’ve received from those who have benefited from your services?

Over the years we have continued to receive brilliant feedback from our service users that continues too drive our passion too keep meeting the needs of our LGBTQIA+ community.

How do you approach partnerships and collaborations to amplify your impact and reach wider audiences?

We believe that together we are stronger, we always strive too work in collaboration and partnership with other services and organisations that align with our values as a charity.

What drew you to become personally involved with Sahir House? What motivates you to continue working for this organization?

Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself I have always admired the reputation of Sahir House. I wanted to help make an impact and support members of the community. Sahir’s core values align with my personal values.

Is there a specific moment or story during your time at Sahir House that has profoundly impacted you?

There are some sad moments where I have seen the impact internalised stigma around someone and there HIV where they have refused to take medication that would have saved their life. There have also been personal achievements such as working on a land mark asylum case that changed case law and becoming the first non-binary person to be recognised as a refugee. The story made headlines all around the world.

You mentioned a need for donations and promoting your LGBTQ+ training services for companies. How can individuals and organisations best support Sahir House?

The best way is for people too donate, even if it’s just a one off donation or £5 a month it will help us to directly run much needed services. If you can’t donate personally then ask others too and share the good work that we do too help raise awareness and combat stigma still faced by members of our community every day.

As your IT support company, how has MICT LTD helped Sahir House in achieving its mission and delivering its services more efficiently?

Having a reliable computer system means we can accurately record support and demographics of our service users and services. This helps us too access much needed funding as we care share this information with funders. Without this information we would not be able to function. Also helps in maintaining GDPR and other policies and keeping records up to date.

If you have a charity that you feel would benefit from support from a friendly and understanding IT company, then get in touch, we’d love to see how we can help!


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