London Friend, the city’s oldest gay charity, has launched an emergency appeal to buy its current premises.

The LGBT counselling service was founded 40 years ago and has six months to raise the £200,000 needed to buy its Caledonian Road building.

In November, it was told by Islington council that the building had been deemed “surplus to requirements” and was to be put up for auction with just three weeks’ notice.

After PinkNews.co.uk reported on the story, a council spokesman said the building had been removed from the auction and that London Friend would be given the option of purchasing it.

London Friend chief executive Matthew Halliday said today that the building will be sold at auction if the money is not raised.

He said: “Although we are extremely disappointed that Islington council have decided to progress with this sale, we are pleased to be given the opportunity to try and purchase the property as an asset for London’s LGBT community.

“We have been providing counselling and other support to LGBT people for 40 years and we hope to be here for another 40. We are a volunteer run service and operate on minimal costs.”

He said that a fundraising committee is being formed and that the charity is in talks with large trusts and foundations.

Apart from a £35,000 Department of Health donation for a volunteering manager, the charity survives on individual donations, fundraising and funds donated in wills.

The council’s decision came just after London Friend took over the LGBT drugs and alcohol counselling service Antidote, which was to close due to funding cuts.

The charity will hear in the next fortnight whether it will receive a Lottery fund grant to keep Antidote going.

Donations towards London Friend’s appeal can be made online at www.justgiving.com/Friend200 or by sending cheques to London Friend, 86 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DN.