Coronavirus threatens to kill off Herts HIV charity within weeks

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 April 2020

Iain Murtagh outside The Crescent with retired GP Michael Jameson and actor John Sessions.

Iain Murtagh outside The Crescent with retired GP Michael Jameson and actor John Sessions.

The Crescent

A long-serving Hertfordshire charity is still facing closure within weeks, despite receiving a number of donations after an appeal in the Herts Advertiser.

Iain Murtagh said HIV charity The Crescent still faced closure within weeks.Iain Murtagh said HIV charity The Crescent still faced closure within weeks.

The Crescent, in St Albans, has supported HIV patients for more than 30 years.

CEO Iain Murtagh revealed in late March that the charity faced closure within six weeks, after coronavirus “lockdown” measures forced the cancellation of its entire programme of fundraising events.

He said: “Income has fallen off a cliff. It’s disappeared.”

After our appeal, roughly £3,000 was raised in grants and donations – without which the charity would have already gone bust.

But the cash has only extended the charity’s life by weeks, said Mr Murtagh, as it was hit with a £750 insurance bill and has more than £900 in IT and security bills to pay within the next fortnight.

After that, the charity will only have two to three weeks’ money left.

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“I’ve been applying for funds anywhere I can see,” said Mr Murtagh. “I managed to get a small grant of £2,000 from Herts Community Foundation, which will help us a bit for a few weeks, but that’s it.”

The Crescent provides ongoing support for roughly 300 HIV patients, some of whom need help “almost daily”, said Mr Murtagh.

Its services include shopping for patients with mobility problems, transferring them to and from medical appointments and providing them with counselling.

The Crescent also runs a drop-in service (currently closed, to comply with lockdown measures), helps people get tested and gives out free condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

Since its public sector funding was axed in 2010, as part of Government’s austerity measures, even Mr Murtagh, the CEO, has largely worked for free.

He has applied for a grant from TV’s “money saving expert” Martin Lewis, who has offered £1million for small charities struggling during the crisis.

He also hopes to receive a share of the £370million announced earlier this month for small charities by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

But, said Mr Murtagh, given the number of small charities who are struggling, the money “won’t go very far, I think.”

Donations can be made at www.thecrescent.org.uk.


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