Community News

Campaign to ‘Save the Sussex Beacon’ is going strong after impressive support from community

Besi Besemar April 24, 2017

The campaign to save The Sussex Beacon is going strong, with things looking more positive for the Brighton based HIV charity, following a huge swell of community support.

Funding cuts had put services at risk but local support, grants secured from non-statutory funding bodies and a restructure have put the charity in a better financial position. While there is still a way to go in the campaign to save the charity, the majority of staff have been told their jobs are no longer at risk of redundancy.

The charity is currently able to continue offering services to people living with HIV across Sussex.

Local support for the campaign has been impressive, with over 10,600 people signing a petition to Save The Sussex Beacon. MPs, local people and colleagues in the health and HIV sectors have also given their backing.

In addition, The Sussex Beacon is in discussions with national HIV charity, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), about working together and sharing resources in future. These talks are at an early stage and are exploring the possibility of THT providing ‘back office’ resources, such as finance and IT functions.

Simon Dowe

Simon Dowe, Chief Executive of The Sussex Beacon, said: “I feel like we’ve taken a real step forward in our campaign to save the charity.

“There is still a lot of work to do over the coming months to make the The Sussex Beacon more sustainable and less reliant on statutory funding, but I’m delighted we have the opportunity to continue supporting local people living with HIV right now.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for their support during this really difficult time, from service users and volunteers, to fundraisers and local MPs. Finally, the staff have been incredible, both dedicated and professional despite their jobs being at risk. We’ve all been moved by the support we’ve had and it’s made us more determined than ever to secure a future for The Sussex Beacon.”

In December 2016, Beacon trustees announced services including the ten bed in patient unit were under threat of closure as changes to local commissioning arrangements led to a reduction in statutory funding.

The charity costs over £2 million a year to run and the Charity Trustees said they could not continue to absorb these cuts and could be forced to close in June 2017 if they could not find between £300-£400,000 over the next 2-3 years to survive.

In January 2017 Beacon trustees announced they were to close their psychological services at the end of March 2017, due to a loss of funding.

Charity management and trustees have vowed to continue to make every effort to put the organisation in a stronger financial position over the coming months while negotiations with THT continue.

The Sussex Beacon provides specialist support and care for people living with HIV through both inpatient and outpatient services. It helps hundreds of people living with HIV in Sussex each year and was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission in September.