After watching 'It's A Sin' written by Russell T Davies, on Channel 4 television and 4oD, it really took our founder, Garry Jones back to when he was 21 in 1981,
Which lead into the arrival of the AIDS pandemic. It got him thinking that there was nothing in his home city of Birmingham by which we can remember those 'we have loved and lost' to this terrible disease.
Garry posted on Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in forming a group to make one happen. The response was incredible, and this campaign was born. The benefit of social media helped here as others had tried previously but the memorial had never happened.
Garry got together with Birmingham Pride co-founder Phil Oldershaw, and owner of The Fox pub, Andy King, to form a fundraising group to gain traction and see this through. This campaign has now built incredible momentum with support from; Birmingham City Council, The Public Art Gateway Group (PAGG), Southside BID, numerous LGBTQ+, and other businesses onboard. It is also with delight that we have partnered with the 'Saving Lives' HIV Charity, who were quick to offer support and resources, including a registered charity
The AIDS Red Ribbon was originally designed / conceived In 1991 by a group of New York artists they came together to create a meaningful symbol at the height of the AIDS crisis—to show support and compassion for those with AIDS and their caregivers. These artists were a part of the Visual AIDS Artists' Caucus and what they created was titled "The Ribbon Project", better known today simply as the Red Ribbon.
Through a series of meetings in April and May of 1991, and using the yellow ribbons as inspiration, the Red Ribbon was born. The colour red was chosen for its "connection to blood and the idea of passion—not only anger, but love..." The ribbon format was selected in part because it was easy to recreate and wear. The original instructions were to "cut the red ribbon in 6 inch length, then fold at the top into an inverted 'V' / Heart shape. Use a safety pin to attach to clothing."
there is no copyright to the Red Ribbon .
World AIDS Day Birmingham in the early 90’s until 2015
Initially it was about distributing campaign materials and workshops and events to raise awareness and address the mis information regarding transmission; promoting condom use and safer sex.
With an annual candle light vigil where the names of those we lost were read out and remembered.
As treatments developed to give us a viable combination therapy with the onset of anti retroviral medication our language and campaign messages were adapted to promote HIV testing and access to early treatment .
In 2008 we turned WAD into a positive celebration of life and continued to promote our campaign events working with all our diverse communities and HIV positive people co- producing all our messages and activities. we adapted the Red Ribbon into the Red Ribbon Heart,as symbol of love & the geographical position of Birmingham being at the centre England in the heart of the UK & gave a WAD a subtitle “Positively Red “
We had fashion shows at Selfridges Birmingham in collaboration with local universities, music concerts in the town hall, art exhibitions , a patchwork quilt project , hat competition, poster design, flash mobs with theatre students etc.
WAD was featured on Midlands today bringing our campaign into the homes of up to 6million viewers .
All this fabulous work was made possible by the enthusiastic and committed organisations and individuals who supported our work, without them non of this would have been possible and because of them lives have been saved. ♥️
Liz Morris Sexual Health Promotion Service Manager 2000-2016
Heart of Birmingham NHS Trust &
Heart of England NHS Foundation
Most events other than promoting testing for HIV were acts of remembrance held on WAD ( world AIDS day) December 1st .
In 2008 the decision was made to make Birmingham WAD a day of 3 themes
Remembrance : to remember those we have loved & lost to AIDS
Education: to promote testing , to end stigma & prejudice to those with HIV
Celebration: to celebrate those who are living with the virus .
The campaign leading up to WAD was given the title “Positively RED “
the Red ribbon was redesigned by Garry Jones to the Heart Red Ribbon to reflect the love ,also Birmingham being the centre of the UK & Heart of the midlands
the Heart Ribbon was used in all campaigns until 2015 .
when sexual health services & funding for WAD stopped
Umbrella Sexual Health services University Hospital Birmingham took over WAD .
Sadly there has been no funding for World AIDS Day to date & no events have happened since 2015
We hope with the presence of the memorial this will change the two ribbons not only are a symbol of remembrance but a beacon of hope & education for the future.