HIV charity faces closure after 30 years as coronavirus halts fundraising

PUBLISHED: 09:53 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:02 27 March 2020

CEO Iain Murtagh (left) outside The Crescent with retired GP Michael Jameson (centre) and actor John Sessions (right).

CEO Iain Murtagh (left) outside The Crescent with retired GP Michael Jameson (centre) and actor John Sessions (right).

The Crescent

A charity which supports hundreds of Herts HIV patients said the coronavirus pandemic could force it to close within six weeks, after more than 30 years of service.

The Crescent's CEO Iain Murtagh warned the charity could be closed within six weeks.The Crescent's CEO Iain Murtagh warned the charity could be closed within six weeks.

Iain Murtagh, CEO of The Crescent in St Albans, said the inability to hold fundraising events had left the charity with no income.

Since the coronavirus put an end to public gatherings, he said, “Income has fallen off a cliff. It’s disappeared... Without any income, we will be closed probably a month and a half from now.”

The charity provides ongoing to support to roughly 300 HIV patients, some of whom need attention almost daily, he said.

The charity’s services include collecting shopping for patients with mobility problems, transferring them to and from medical appointments and providing them with counselling.

It also runs a drop-in service (currently closed due to the pandemic), helps people get tested and gives out free condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

In 2016, The Crescent received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

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Regular bucket collections at train stations has had to be cancelled, as have fundraising music events and a quiz night.

Mr Murtagh said: “It’s all very difficult. We’ve still got to pay for the electricity, the gas, the water, the phone bill. We have no way of actually paying that.

“We had some reserves but effectively, our income has stopped.

“Our running costs are quite low, fortunately, and we don’t have any paid staff. But if things go terribly wrong, as they have now, we could essentially be closed, which would be dreadful in this situation.

“We had about three months of money and it’s fast going out because unfortunately, at this time of year, everything renews, like insurance and the contracts for the fire alarms and security systems.”

The Crescent was founded in 1988. Mr Murtagh started volunteering roughly 30 years ago and later became a paid member of staff.

But after the charity’s public sector funding was axed in 2010, under Government austerity measures, the charity was forced to run on a shoestring budget, which left Mr Murtagh, the CEO, largely working for free.

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


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