Waverley Care was set up in 1989 to build the UK’s first purpose-built AIDS hospice, in response to the growing HIV epidemic in Edinburgh. A site was made available in the grounds of the old City Hospital in the south of the city, building work started in 1990 and Milestone House opened its doors in January 1991.
In 1993 Waverley Care extended its services by taking over responsibility for community based services, previously run by a separate independent charity. At this time we talked about providing support from “diagnosis to death” ensuring quality of life, dignity and independence for those who used our services. As well as supporting people living with HIV and AIDS, we offered services to partners and family members, and developed the very first individual and group support for children and young people both living with and affected by HIV.
The advent of new drug treatments in 1996 shifted the focus of our work towards helping people to come to terms with living longer with HIV. In 1999 our hospice, Milestone, adapted its services to provide more respite care rather than palliative care. By 2002 we were developing projects aimed at improving people’s health and helping them to make future plans that included training, studying or employment.
In 2003 we changed our constitution to include working with all blood borne viruses; this was in recognition of the growing work we were doing with people diagnosed with Hepatitis C. We also launched our African support services to respond to the emergence of African communities in Scotland being affected by HIV. Two years later, the African Health Project expanded to Glasgow and marked the opening of our first office outside of the capital.
Our expansion continued over the next few years and, in 2007, our first fully national project launched with funding from BBC Children in Need, supporting children across the country living with HIV. 2009 saw us expand our work into Lanarkshire, Fife and the Borders and our first Hepatitis C specific service launched in Lothian. Our reach went even further in 2010 when we opened our new office in Inverness and began work across Highland, Argyll and Bute.
Coming more up-to-date, in 2012 we launched our Scotland-wide HIV awareness and anti-stigma campaign, HIV Always Hear, which continues today. Then, before we knew it we found ourselves in 2014 celebrating our 25th birthday and looking back on what had gone before and where we might go in the future. In 2015 our expansion continued with the launch of a dedicated African Health Project service in Forth Valley and this year our services in Lothian have been developed to offer more services to men who have sex with men, in association with LGBT Health.
Over the years we have adapted our services to the changing needs of communities and individuals affected by HIV and Hepatitis C and we will continue to do so into the future.