Swang Shallangwa


Role: Faith & Health Coordinator

Location: National

Swang joined Waverley Care in 2015 as our Faith and Health Coordinator. We caught up with him to learn about his work, his reasons for joining Waverley Care, and his love of table tennis.


What did you do before you joined Waverley Care?

I pastored at a church for about 5 years and, just before starting at Waverley Care, I enrolled into the Masters Programme in Infectious Diseases with the University of Edinburgh.


What inspired you to come and work for Waverley Care?

I’ve always been interested in HIV and blood borne viruses, and was attracted to the idea of working for a charity. I did some work back home in Nigeria with an American based Christian organisation known as He Intends Victory (HIV). That stirred the pool of compassion in me to always present myself for service wherever I am. I followed the work of Waverley Care closely before joining and I was convinced that I had a contribution to make.


What does your role involve?

I work with faith organisations to raise awareness of HIV and other blood borne viruses in the wider community. The work also looks at how we can tackle the health inequalities that exist in minority communities.


What is the biggest challenge that you face in your work?

Many people have preconceived ideas about HIV based on myths, and people living with the condition continue to face stigma within faith organisations. When we approach faith leaders to begin to tackle this, we first need to overcome the lack of trust they have in engaging with health workers. Faith leaders are trusted members of the community and they can make a big difference. We work with them to increase their understanding of HIV and encourage them to help us talk about our work with members of their community.


Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I have a young family and like to spend time playing with the kids. I also like to play table tennis and my team is part of the Edinburgh Table Tennis League.


Do you have any holiday plans?

That depends on the bank account! I’d like to go away with the family, maybe somewhere in the UK or Europe, but nothing’s planned yet.


What is your favourite meal?

A Nigerian meal of tuwo (a pudding made from rice flour) with okra soup. My wife has an amazing recipe.


Who inspires you?

Bishop David Abioye, the Vice President of the Living Faith Church Worldwide.

"Faith leaders are trusted members of the community and they can make a big difference. We work with them to increase their understanding of HIV"