It is Thursday 15 October at the time of writing this and a few days have passed since we came home after the wellness weekend in Tylösand. Conversations, laughter and discussions have been mixed with good food and time in Hotel Tylösand’s spa. Here follows a summary of impressions from myself, input from participants and the weekend as a whole.
We left Malmö by car around 16:00 on Friday afternoon for the trip to Halmstad and Tylösand. Some of the 15 registered participants came from elsewhere and went to the destination on their own. We chose to go by car and avoid public transport as in September corona in Skåne had increased and as organizers we tried to ensure that the event was as safe as possible.
Once at the hotel we checked into our rooms and could spend an hour to get acquainted with the hotel and the new surroundings. The dinner took place in the hotel restaurant at 7 pm and before the meal a short welcome speech was given together with some practical advice and tips for the stay. Many had not met before and the dinner was, in addition to the food, an event of informal introductions between the nearest table neighbors.
Lectures and workshops start!
After breakfast, Saturday started with a lecture at 10 o’clock on the theme “Peer Support – What is it, why does it matter and how do we ensure all people living with HIV gets it”. You can see and download the presentation here, although without animations:
During the hour-long presentation, an introduction was given to peer support and why it is important in relation to living with HIV. We also had the opportunity to discuss HIV status and openness in groups of 3 people. Who might you tell? What are the benefits of telling? What are the disadvantages? And are there any downsides to not telling? The origins of focusing on openness are based on the research and the notion that many people living with HIV would like to be more open. The questions gave everyone the chance to listen to someone else’s thoughts and experiences and think about their own. We also went through practical tips on how we can act around telling, to help we had the five Ws taken from Positively UK, a leading organization in peer support for people living with HIV. All participants also had the opportunity to introduce themselves and tell about their HIV status openly to everyone else.
Next up was from Arielle from Lund University. Arielle started working with us last year, then as a student writing a masters thesis, today she is employed at Lund University and works with a study in peer support for people living with HIV. The results are not ready for publication yet, but we got an insight into the work and what themes Arielle found and built her study around, which for example included where peer support is given and by whom. The study is ongoing and more interviews with people living with HIV will be conducted. If you want to participate, you can contact us directly.
After lunch at the hotel we returned to the conference room Gessle, it was time for Tobias and the workshop “Succeeding with HIV prevention”. The name and workshop are based on a publication from the Swedish Public Health Agency. The publication functions as a manual and can be helpful for planning, carrying out and following up initiatives. For this workshop, we had adapted the content and started with questions such as “Why is it important that the Positive Group South exists?” and “What is the main problem the Positive Group South wants to counter?”. The questions had the participants first think for themselves and then share their answers. Some of the answers were: “Counteract stigma”, “be a contact hub for peers” and “educate”.
In the next part, the focus was on goals – “What is the goal of Positiva Gruppen Syd, what would the situation look like when the goal is met?” and “Do your main problems fit within the overall goal?”. The answers varied and everything from that HIV would be a smaller part of one’s life to that no more work with HIV would be needed was included in the answers. The common thread was however related to reduced stigma and a better understanding from others of what HIV is. Finally, various target groups were discussed and what Positiva Gruppen Syd does today and how well the participants think that the organization worked with the problems that the participants wanted to be solved. There were both wishes to try to reach, for example, the lonely and vulnerable better with outreach activities, such as launching education packages and contacting healthcare, schools and other institutions in society to reach out widely with information about living with HIV.
After the workshop, coffee was served and the conversations continued before people started heading back to their rooms for some well-deserved rest.
Dinner in Halmstad and evening hang out in the hotel’s spa
At 6 pm, a table was booked at Fridolfs Krog. The food was pre-ordered and among the favorites was butter-fried char which was enjoyed by five people in the party. The cod was not as popular as only one person chose this alternative, but it is said to have tasted fantastic. The restaurant was relatively full and although the serving took a while, everyone was happy and satisfied when we after two and a half hours went back to Tylösand and the hotel. At this point it was noticeable that people had started to get to know each other and compared to the dinner the night before, there was no lack of conversation points and both this and that was discussed 🙂
Back at the hotel, most people were looking forward to the hotel’s spa with several pools and saunas. Since it was a weekend, the spa did not close until 12 o’clock and there were surprisingly few people in the spa, which was good both considering the corona and the opportunity to use the amenities. It felt like a perfect environment to talk and get to know each other further. A constellation was created in the pool, someone left and someone new was added and so on. The spa was used until the last minute and hopefully everyone fell asleep satisfied, happy and relaxed.
Closing and summary of the weekend
At the check-out at 11 the next day we gathered briefly to thank each other before going back home again. In summary, the weekend was very appreciated. The stay could easily have been extended by one more day, but maybe it’s not so bad to end with a feeling of wanting more?
A group of 15 participants, 17 together with the lecturers was appropriate considering the layout and how much time we had to spend together. Given the corona the risks would have also increased with a larger group and how we interacted might also have been restricited. With this groupsize we could easily apply a number of fairly straight forward measurements; private transport, no participants with symptoms and also preferably new town for corona, well-scattered seats in the conference room and generous supply of hand sanitizer and individual rooms in the hotel.
It was also extra fun to see so many new participants, with the mix of those who have been members for a long time and newcomers, the dynamics were perfect. The weekend also provided ideas for themes for new activities, something we have already woven into the next activity on 7 November. We look forward to meeting again and hope the weekend gave encoragement as well as tools in living well with hiv.