10,000 people have now signed a petition asking the Government to take action to save local HIV charity, The Sussex Beacon.
The charity faces the prospect of closing services, including its ten bed inpatient unit, following a reduction in the funding it receives from the NHS.
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.
Changes to local commissioning arrangements have led to a reduction in statutory funding. The Sussex Beacon has already lost some funding and further cuts seem likely in the future. The charity costs over £2 million a year to run and cannot continue to absorb the budget cuts.
The petition is targeted at the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, and NHS England. Now it has reached 10,000 signatures, staff are working with supportive local MPs to ensure it makes an impact in parliament, raising awareness of the charity’s position and highlighting the level of public support.
Simon Dowe, Chief Executive of The Sussex Beacon, said: “Since we announced that these funding cuts are threatening our services, we’ve had an outpouring of support, which we’re incredibly grateful for. Service users, colleagues in the health and HIV sectors, MPs and local people have given us their backing as we try to find a way to keep our services open.
He continued: “We’re delighted to hit 10,000 signatures on the petition as we feel it demonstrates to Commissioners and the Department of Health how valued we are. If we are forced to close services, not only will it have an impact on some of the most vulnerable people with HIV locally, it will also put significant additional pressure on both health and social care services in Sussex as they try to fill the gap. We’re doing all we can to avoid closing services, while also supporting our service users and staff at this difficult time.”
Charity management and trustees continue to explore a variety of options to try to secure funding. Conversations with local and NHS England Commissioners are ongoing and other options are also being explored including approaching non NHS funding and grant giving bodies. The charity may be redesigned, or may work in partnership with other local organisations in order to continue helping people with HIV.
To find the petition to Save the Sussex Beacon go to www.38degrees.org.uk and type in ‘Sussex Beacon’.
A fundraiser celebrating 25 years of the work of the Sussex Beacon is the curtain raiser to LGBT+ History Month in February.
Celebration! will be the first show staged in the Phil Starr Pavilion on New Steine Gardens and is organised by the Brighton & Hove LGBT+ Community Safety Forum.
Artists donating their services free of charge include Myra Dubois, Lorraine Bowen, Miss Jason, Dave Lynn, Davina Sparkle, Maisie Trollette, Kara Van Park, Sally Vate and dancers from the Brighton Academy choreographed by Emma Green. The show is directed and staged by Carole Todd and every penny of ticket money will go to the Sussex Beacon.
Tickets priced £18/£15 concs are available from Prowler, Nice ‘n’ Naughty and the Sussex Beacon Charity Shop in St James Street.
To book tickets online, click here:
For more information about The Sussex Beacon, click here: