ACON’s Positive Living Centre has started its new arts and crafts program for women living with HIV. The program is currently scheduled for a three-month trial period which, if successful, will be extended and may receive funding from the City of Sydney.

Put on as part of the Positive Living Centre’s monthly women’s day, the arts and crafts classes are run by a group of talented and generous instructors from the Pine Street Gallery. Women living with HIV are encouraged to express themselves creatively through knitting, jewellery work and ceramics while also forming important friendship bonds.

Vicki Coumbe, the coordinator for the Positive Living Centre’s women and families affected by HIV division, said the program was about more than just learning to knit.

We’ve found that social isolation is a huge problem, particularly for women suffering from HIV, because disclosure is such a big issue for these women, particularly if they have kids who might get bullied as a result. So many of them don’t have anyone to talk to, Coumbe said.

The great thing about this program is that it is a great way to get people talking while giving them an opportunity to express themselves artistically.

A lot of the time women can come in and feel uncomfortable, or they come from different backgrounds so might have troubles communicating. Getting the women to sit down and work on an arts and crafts project is a great way for them to find a common ground to talk over, that doesn’t just relate to being HIV-positive.

Coumbe said the first night of arts and crafts had a large turn-out and she hopes that if numbers remain high the program will be eligible for a grant from the City of Sydney.

The next two arts and crafts nights are scheduled for 19 May and 16 June. They run at the Positive Living Centre, 703 Bourke St, Surry Hills. No bookings are required but for information call 9699 8756.

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