Marketing consultant. Social enterprise founder. Mother. Widow. HIV positive. One person; a myriad of possible labels.
Eleven years ago, Lizzie became a mother, a widow and HIV positive all within an 18 month period. Her life was turned upside down, so she moved away from her London fashion career, and returned to rural Lincolnshire to be near her family.
In 2012 Lizzie, as a single mother to a grieving child, wanted to find resources and training locally for her child’s primary school. She struggled.
Lizzie recognised the issues being faced in classrooms across the UK and wanted to do something about the ‘uncomfortable silences’ young people often felt when discussing sensitive subjects with the professionals involved in their lives. 18 months of plotting and planning later Think2Speak CIC was founded.
Teachers and staff often don’t have the time, resource or knowledge to handle ‘difficult’ conversations such as the ones Lizzie and her child have had to regularly tackle. Lizzie and her team work with young people, and the professionals working with them, to empower them to have the skills to confidently handle sensitive conversations, to know who to think to speak to and where to go to access further support.
Lizzie has, since her own diagnosis in 2006, become ‘one of the UK’s highest profile HIV advocates’; spoken in the House of Lords as Terrence Higgins Trust’s invited speaker, been interviewed by Stephen Fry for his BBC documentary ‘Stephen Fry HIV & Me’ and she has also been featured in The Guardian, The Observer and The Mirror amongst others.
She has spoken internationally about her life, experiences and champions effective engagement with stakeholders. In 2016, Lizzie became 1 of 3 Patient Public Voices on the NHS England Specialised Commissioning Clinical Reference Group (CRG) for HIV. Lizzie also works as an expert patient consultant, adviser and ‘inspirational speaker’, and as a Visiting Lecturer at Birmingham City University and Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln.