Note: this interview was originally published in 2016.

At this time of year, what could be better than a barbecue? Brighton’s Lunch Positive will be cooking up a storm at the Bear-B-Q Picnic at this year’s Brighton Bear Weekend. We talked with Gary Pargeter from Lunch Positive to find out what’s in store …

What is Lunch Positive, and what do you do there?

Lunch Positive is a weekly Friday lunch club for people with HIV. We provide a community space for people with HIV to meet, share a healthy meal, find peer support, socialise and make friendships. We also provide advice and information, have an emergency food bank, host workshops and outreach from other support groups, and have a very active volunteering programme.

My role is to lead the volunteer team of thirty people in planning our activities and making sure we are providing a service that meets the needs of the people that come along and use the lunch club.

Lunch Positive started in 2009, following the closure of long established HIV project Open Door which closed due to withdrawal of funding. Since starting Lunch Positive, we’ve grown to meet the changing and evolving needs of the local HIV community, still focusing on providing a peer-led volunteer provided community space that isn’t found anywhere else.

Lunch Positive

What sort of food can we expect at the Bear-B-Q Picnic in June?

We’ll be providing home-made hot BBQ food with veggie options and sides, salads, tea and coffee, and cake! Our volunteers will be serving from our marquee. Here’s the menu:

  • BBQ & griddled food with sweet potato wedges or Mexican rice, all for £5.00:
    • Home-made beef burger in a bun
    • Lamb meatball kebab in a sub
    • BBQ pork sausage in a sub
    • Chicken thighs and legs in BBQ marinade
    • Home-made veggie burger in a bun
    • Courgette, roasted pepper & halloumi kebabs in pita bread
  • Salads – all side bowls, mix and match for £2.50:
    • Potato salad in crème fraîche and chive dressing
    • Home-made coleslaw
    • Greek salad
    • Pasta salad in pesto dressing
  • Tea or coffee for £1
  • Cakes for £1.50

Do you have any other big events coming up in the near future?

Our next big events coming up are our 7th Birthday, in Dorset Gardens Peace Park, on 11th June from noon to 3:00pm. It’s an Al Fresco Lunch, free, and everyone from the local community is invited. We want to say thanks for all the support over the years.

At Brighton Pride in Preston Park on Saturday 6th August, we have our big marquee café – the Field Kitchen. This is a fundraiser for us, and we’re serving a range of hot foods with rice and salads – all £5, hot and cold drinks £1, and a cake stall. For anyone coming to Pride, please look out for us – we’re in the Community Village at Preston Park.

Where do you see Lunch Positive heading over the next few years, in terms of growth and impact in the community?

There’s a popular belief that HIV is no longer an important issue for people who are HIV-positive, or for the community. This isn’t the case! We see Lunch Positive developing in line with the needs of our community. We’ll definitely be providing a community space to growing numbers of people, and aiming to respond to the changing social and support needs of people with HIV. We’ll continue to actively challenge HIV stigma, both as an organisation and as individuals involved. Our overall aim is to ensure that local people with HIV will always have a space that is useful and relevant to the community and where people and peer support are valued and encouraged.

How can people donate to Lunch Positive, or volunteer?

To volunteer or donate, please take a look at our website:

Thanks, Gary. We’ll see you at the picnic!

The Bear-B-Q Picnic took place on Saturday 18 June in Dorset Gardens in the Kemptown area of Brighton.