Birmingham HIV Memorial Hits Fundraising Target Thanks to Huge AirBnb Donation

Global property letting company, Airbnb, has donated £30,000 to Birmingham AIDS & HIV Memorial (BAHM), to support its campaign to erect a memorial sculpture in Birmingham’s Southside. Following Airbnb’s generous donation, BAHM reached its required target of £210,000, giving the memorial the green light to be built this winter.

Now on track to be unveiled on 1 December, to coincide with World AIDS Day, the six-metre-high sculpture will be permanently positioned in the new Hippodrome Square, in Birmingham.

A cause that is close to the hearts of the team at Airbnb, the business chose to donate to BAHM’s efforts following a partnership with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. As part of that collaboration, Airbnb launched The Airbnb Birmingham 2022 Legacy Pledge to preserve, celebrate and showcase the cultural gems that make the West Midlands unique, including a commitment to helping complete the BAHM memorial sculpture.

Commenting on Airbnb’s donation, Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb shared:

“As part of our commitment to building a legacy for the Commonwealth Games, the city of Birmingham and the incredible people and communities of the West Midlands, Airbnb is proud to support BAHM and the project to build a memorial sculpture in the city. We hope it will beautifully remember those lost, educate those living, and celebrate people leading healthier, longer and fuller lives with HIV.”

Having received initial planning permission in September 2021, BAHM announced that a total sum of £210,000 would subsequently need to be fundraised to bring it to fruition. A host of businesses, charities and organisations from across the region and beyond soon pledged their support: from Galliard Apsley Partnership donating £40,000 and Court Collaboration pledging £20,000; to Birmingham City Council contributing £25,000 in kind and Birmingham Pride gifting £17,000.
Co-founder of BAHM, Phil Oldershaw, commented:

“We’re so grateful for the incredible donation from Airbnb. The staggering sum means that we have now officially reached our fundraising target and the memorial will be erected in the heart of Birmingham. This World AIDS Day on 1 December, we plan to unveil this moving tribute to remember all of the lives lost in the past, and to spotlight the thousands of people in our city who are currently living with HIV. Thank you to all of the businesses, organisations and individuals who have donated to our campaign so far – this simply wouldn’t be possible without your support.”

Inspired by Channel 4’s hit series, ‘It’s a Sin’, and his own personal experience of the AIDS epidemic, local businessman and the designer of the monument, Garry Jones first set out to establish a dedicatory space in Birmingham to remember those loved and lost to HIV. With support from co-founders Andrew King and Phil Oldershaw, he started to develop plans for a memorial sculpture.
The innovative memorial, fabricated by Luke Perry, will feature two entwined red-ribbon hearts positioned to represent an ‘embrace’. As it weathers, one of the heart ribbons will be left to corrode and rust, representing the millions lost to HIV; meanwhile, the other will be painted red to symbolise those individuals currently living longer and healthier lives with the virus.

“While scientific advance and medical breakthroughs have meant that the quality of life for those diagnosed as HIV positive has significantly improved, the public perception of HIV and AIDS continues to be hugely dated. The misunderstanding and misinformation that surrounds the virus is isolating and dangerous, and we want to encourage people to better understand how, with the support of treatment, people with HIV can live happy, healthy and long lives, undetectable.”

“We hope that the memorial will not only stand as a tribute to those who have sadly lost their lives; but will also help to educate people about the virus, so we can end both the stigma and prejudice associated with the HIV community” concluded Phil.