From short film-making to gourmet cooking for one, the courses at the Positive Living Centre are designed to stimulate, educate and motivate.

As well as being free, the range of courses and complementary therapies are aimed at the wide range of people living with HIV/AIDS in Sydney, according to program coordinator Carl Piraino.

We don’t want to just make it a drop-in centre, we want to make it a place where people have an opportunity to try new things, he says.

In the new cooking courses, the centre has had such a good response they are looking for course leaders as well as attendees.

Volunteer course leaders can be anyone familiar with nutritional and tasty single-meal cooking.

The idea behind the cooking class was to make nutritional meals that could be made by people who may not have access to a full kitchen. So the meals can be prepared in an electric frying pan or something similar.

PLC has also introduced a new art class exploring a range of mediums, and a ceramics class for people interested in clay work. Materials and teachers are supplied.

The short film-making course is on hold temporarily while Carl hunts down a couple of cameras to borrow (a deal with a local film school fell through). It will go ahead as soon as he can find replacements, he says.

The short film-making course was something that I came up with, and suggested to some of our regular visitors. I like to think of the new courses as tasters -“ a lot of our guys might not get a chance to do a short film course anywhere else. And the courses might encourage their interest, encourage them to go on to further study.

A range of massage therapies for people feeling stressed or dealing with side effects from HIV treatments are on offer, from massage to reiki. The centre also holds free yoga classes on Thursday nights for positive people.

The night classes are timed to allow people in the workforce to attend, Carl says.

If people don’t have a chance to come in to the centre they can give us a call and we can send the calendar out on email. Our preference would be for them to come in, so we can meet them and show them around. But they’re welcome to give us a call, he says.

The Positive Living Centre in 703 Bourke St, Surry Hills, is open from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pm, and at night for program participants. Appointments are required for some centre services (including housing advice, treatments information and counselling). The centre has free internet services, free haircuts and a lounge area. For more information or a copy of the calendar ring the centre on 9699 8756, email or just drop in. The centre also encourages volunteering.

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