St Albans HIV charity facing closure in days

A “last-minute miracle” is all that can save a St Albans-based HIV charity which will be forced to close its doors at the end of the month after having its vital funding stripped last year.

The Crescent, based in Russell Avenue, has been struggling to survive since money given to them by Herts County Council was withdrawn in June 2011.

For the last year they have been working tirelessly to keep the service going but with cash rapidly running out it has just one week before it will have to shut down.

Iain Murtagh, head of operations, said: “The situation is if there is no change in position or any additional funding comes in from anywhere then we won’t have enough money to continue beyond the end of August.

“For more than a year we have been relying on volunteers to keep the service going but we need money because there is only so long you can go when you have no income.

“It is devastating we have had people in tears. People are scared because they don’t know what is going to happen to them.

“At the moment I am still hoping for the last-minute miracle.”

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The Crescent’s problems started when their contract was transferred to a Ware-based HIV charity called Herts Aid.

But they are concerned because the local branch of Herts Aid, in Watford, only opens for a few hours per week and users will have nowhere to go when it is closed.

The Crescent is open five days a week and currently helps more than 300 people living with HIV.

Mr Murtagh added: “The council is not prepared to do anything, they are sticking with their position.

“It seems no matter who protested, be that local MPs or peers of the realm, they disregard everyone’s opinion.

“But I won’t give up until the last possible moment, and if we are to close up, if money comes in I will bring it back to life.”

Cllr Colette Wyatt-Lowe, portfolio holder for health and adult care, said: “It’s important to stress that there is support available across Hertfordshire for anyone living with HIV, funded by the county council and the NHS.

“If The Crescent does close, everyone currently receiving support from The Crescent will be able to receive support from Herts Aid instead.”