Whether you’re baking a cake, shopping yourself stupid, enjoying fabulous reserved seating at the Mardi Gras, or dropping a coin into a tin at one of your favourite bars, you could be contributing to the tireless efforts of one of Australia’s most influential gay charities, the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF).

In its most recent effort to redress the hardships faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, the Foundation has been at the forefront of providing basic household appliances through it’s financial programs.

BGF’s financial assistance programs which include a No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and Direct Financial Assistance Program (DFAP) are the main feature of their latest work. The NILS established in October last year was recently extended and enables people living with HIV/AIDS to purchase new household appliances.

BGF executive director Simon Watts told the Star the NILS assists those who need it most and is having a tremendous impact. Essentially it’s helping move people away from the welfare model of dependence, allowing them to take power over their own lives and achieve greater independence, Watts said.

The NILS complements the DFAP, which attempts to meet the everyday needs of people living with HIV/AIDS on low incomes.

The DFAP assists with the costs of day-to-day living and accounts like gas, power and phone accounts and pharmaceutical expenses. We also pay for complementary therapies and childcare for single mothers suffering from HIV/AIDS, Watts said.

Without community support, private sponsorship and government grants, Watts told the Star the financial assistance programmes BGF provide would not be possible.

Every time you purchase reserved seating at the Mardi Gras, or put money in a can at a venue sponsoring us, you are contributing to this scheme. This generous support for our fundraising allows us to continue to provide services to people living with HIV/AIDS. As do grants such as the recent one we received from the Ian Potter Foundation for $15,000.

The BGF’s main fundraising events include the longest running fundraising event on the HIV/AIDS calendar, the Bake-Off; Shop Yourself Stupid, where you can shop yourself into a frenzy with every dollar you spend helping to raise much needed funds; the Miss BGF pageant; and BGF’s largest annual fundraiser, reserved seating at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.

Founded in the late 80s the BGF has been active in the gay and lesbian community through helping to meet the varying needs of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout NSW.

The Foundation, named after an Australian athlete who dominated the swimming events at the world’s first Gay Olympics, established the principle of providing support and services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

With almost 2,000 clients across the state, the Foundation goes a long way to lessening the burden felt by people living with HIV/AIDS through alleviating poverty and improving both the health and quality of life of one in six HIV-positive people in NSW.

Annually the BGF affords on average 7,000 grants totalling just under $650,000.

So next time you’re entering Stonewall whining because you have to fork out a few bucks to meet the cover charge adopted for the night, just remember you could be supporting the work of the BGF and having a tremendous impact on HIV-positive people across NSW.

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