Harpenden students’ support for cash-struck HIV clinic

STUDENTS at a Harpenden school have given their time, energy and their voices to help raise awareness of a local HIV charity which lost key funding earlier this year.

Year 11 pupils at Sir John Lawes School have delivered a series of assemblies to all year groups about HIV and Aids as well as organised a silent auction to raise cash for St Albans HIV centre, The Crescent.

The class were set a challenge to research local charities and decide which one they felt they wanted to support as part of their Life Skills class and a larger national project called Giving Nation, which urges secondary school students to make changes to society in a way that will benefit others.

The group chose The Crescent and were particularly keen to raise awareness of the charity after reading in the Herts Advertiser that it had lost key funding earlier this year.

Daibhid MacCann, their Life Skills teacher, said he was immensely proud of the maturity the students had brought to the project. He said: “They’ve done this all on their own and I know that they’ve learnt a lot from it. They delivered assemblies to all year groups, making them age appropriate as well.

“They approached local businesses and set up a silent auction – and so far they have raised over �420 for the charity. I’m so very proud of them for their commitment to this and I know that they have loved it.”

Pupil Imogen Smith said: “I think it’s refreshing to see people of our generation taking such an interest in charity work, and The Crescent is such a worthy cause.”

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The class are now looking to visit the centre on Russell Avenue to present the charity with a cheque and see more of the work it does.

n The charity has received a flood of good news in recent weeks and announced their new patrons at the start of this month.

The charity said they welcomed CJ De Mooi, professional quizzer and panellist on BBC’s Eggheads, and professional soldier James Wharton.

CJ has worked with the HIV sector for over 20 years and said he was keen to start working with the Russell Avenue-based charity. He said: “If I can use whatever profile I have to help highlight the selfless work of places like The Crescent, I’d consider it a privilege to do so. I’m proud to be a patron of this essential charity and hope I can inspire other people to come forward to promote their wonderful efforts to dispel stigma and ignorance surrounding what is simply a disease like any other.”

James, an Iraq veteran and openly gay soldier, said he had been inspired by The Crescent’s fight despite losing important funding. He said: “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be told such life changing news and then not have access to somewhere to receive crucial information and support. If the services The Crescent provides were removed, there would be a gap in this unmatched support to hundreds of people.”