Jayce, an activist from Ramsgate in Kent, has been nominated for the Positive Role Model – LGBT at The 2015 National Diversity Awards. The ceremony celebrates some of the excellent and inspiring achievements of positive role models and community organisations from across the UK. The awards aim to recognise nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.
Jayce Carberry is 25 years old and lives in the seaside town of Ramsgate, Kent. In 2012, he tested positive for HIV and began his journey to accepting and embracing his status.
Confronted with a new and frightening chapter of his life, Jayce struggled to cope with the mental impact the diagnosis was having on him. It was then he started to write his blog and talked openly about how it was affecting him mentally- meant originally only for his family and friends to read.
Very quickly his blog began to read by thousands of people from across the globe from all walks of life. Not only was the raw emotion and brutal honesty giving people a better understanding of the journey after diagnosis- but it became a resource for people living with HIV, helping them feel less like they were alone and that the feeling they had were shared by others going through the same.
It also became a way for the friends and families to have a better understanding of the journey their loved ones were facing and insight into how to support them to find the strength to come to terms with a positive diagnosis.
Jayce began to actively campaign against the stigma associated with HIV after he was subjected to it by a member of staff at his local jobcentre having turned to them for support to get back into work after taking time out.
After the incident at Maidstone Jobcentre Plus, Jayce wrote about what had happened on his blog and less than 24 hours later it had gone viral and support came flooding in from all the world. He gained the support of the then Equalities Minister Helen Grant, who was also Jayce’s local MP.
Determined that he wanted change and to ensure this kind of incident wouldn’t happen again, he called for the ‘optional’ HIV & AIDS awareness training to become mandatory. He appeared on TV, radio, in newspapers, magazines and on news websites all over the world.
The fight took its toll on him mentally and emotionally after he began to receive abuse via social media and email. Undeterred, Jayce continued to fight to ensure nobody else living with HIV would be subjected to the humiliating and devastating treatment he had.
After weeks of campaigning and fighting, he received a full apology from the jobcentre involved and, the once optional training unit was made mandatory with promises it would become a national standard.
Jayce then began the ‘#SupportNotStigma’ campaign on social media in a bid to raise awareness of the effects stigma can have on people living with HIV.
In 2014, when discussing the incident at the jobcentre- the conclusion was reached that, if effective awareness training is in place, the lack of education and resulting ignorance towards HIV & AIDS- the fight against stigma could be won.
Using his own money and time, Jayce started a project called ‘Train The Change’ – an HIV, AIDS & stigma awareness campaign. The launch happened exactly oneyear after the incident in Maidstone and has been delivered to people from all walks of life. One learner described it as ‘a perfect model for HIV education in schools’.
Since then, Jayce has been invited to advise Kent County Council’s Public Health department on HIV prevention and early diagnosis strategies and has become a respected figure in regards to sexual health and LGBT equality.
Most recently he has been asked to join the advisory board for sexual health services in Kent to ensure they are fully inclusive for the LGBT community and that service inequalities and issues are known in Kent and are remodelled in a way that helps to combat the late diagnosis and non-testing figures in Kent.
Jayce has tried to raise as much awareness about PeP as he can to ensure both LGBTQ and heterosexual people know what it is and how to access it. On two occasions it has been at a time the people that contacted him needed it and were unaware of it’s existence- potentially preventing them from contracting HIV.
He has received some incredibly negative and hurtful attacks both in person and online since he began sharing his journey, and at times, has felt like he should walk away and stop fighting for equality and against stigma- but has been able to use the support of his friends, family and supporters to continue to do what he feels passionately about.
Behind the scenes, for the last 3 years, Jayce has dedicated a large portion of his time, roughly an hour a night, replying to messages, emails and even meeting with people affected with HIV or people going through an ‘HIV scare’.
Jayce has now joined an equality & diversity charity as a community participation officer to dedicate all his time and efforts to work towards reshaping the equality landscape and supporting those who need it.
“I do all I can to help all the people I can because it just feels like it is the right thing to do. I am a regular person and I guess people can relate to that. I hope being open about my status and doing what I do helps people to see that HIV doesn’t change who people are and what they can be.
It is an amazing feeling to be nominated for an award like this- and whatever happens, I feel very blessed!”
The National Diversity Awards 2015 in association with Microsoft will be held in Liverpool on September 18th. Britain’s most inspirational and selfless people will come together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities who have contributed to creating a more diverse and inclusive society.
The largest diversity awards ceremony of its kind has attracted a growing list of top employers such as Sky, Financial Ombudsman Service and Price Waterhouse Coopers.
The prestigious black-tie event has also gained support from a number of celebrities including Stephen Fry, Misha B and Ade Adepitan.
Theresa McHenry, of Microsoft UK, said ‘The National Diversity Awards 2013 were thought provoking, humbling, inspiring, and not least, entertaining. This is the reason Microsoft are delighted to continue to be involved and have committed to sponsoring the National Diversity Awards 2015’.
Amongst last year’s winners was James Partridge, who spear-headed campaigns for social change and pushed for anti-discrimination protection. Jessica Huie took home the entrepreneur of excellence award for race, faith & religion, for setting up the UK’s most successful multicultural Greeting Card and Gift Company. Birmingham LGBT were also recognised for opening the first LGBT Health & Wellbeing Centre in England and Wales
The National Diversity Awards received an astonishing amount of nominations for last year’s event. Paul Sesay, Chief Executive of The National Diversity Awards said, ‘It is an honour to witness the extraordinary journeys of Britain’s unsung diversity heroes, and we will continue to recognise their extraordinary achievements during 2015’.
‘I know another fantastic spectacle of role models will be delivered and recognised this year’.
Nominations are now open and close June 21st 2015 – so don’t miss out on your chance to get involved!
Shortlisted nominees will be announced shortly after this date.
To nominate Jayce Carberry please visit: https://nominate.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/Nominate/Endorse/27927?name=Jayce+Carberry