HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust has relaunched a national Hardship Fund for people living with HIV in severe financial need.

Funding has been secured from the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the M·A·C AIDS Fund, as well as via Terrence Higgins Trust’s annual Walk For Life fundraising event, to provide £1.5 million of grants over a period of three years.

The Trust says the fund is designed to make applications for financial aid as simple as possible for those in need.

The Hardship Fund had been operated by Crusaid until the charity merged with Terrence Higgins Trust in March of 2010.

The relaunch had originally been announced in October of that year along with an interim fund to continue providing grants.

There is now a network of more than fifty ‘referral gateways’ across the UK, selected to represent a wide geographical spread and cover areas which have, historically, shown the greatest need.

A full list of referral gateways can be found on the Trust’s website.

To better identify applicants’ specific needs, the relaunched Hardship Fund has now been split into three distinct funding streams:

· Necessity Fund: Offering payments of up to £150 to those who need help with day to day essentials, such as food, heating, or winter clothing.

· Transition Fund: Offering payments of up to £250 to those requiring one-off support during a major life change, such as moving to a new area or waiting for a new job to start.

· Family Fund: Offering payments of up to £150 to families, where a parent and/or a child has HIV. The Family Fund is designed to support families to meet one-off expenses, similarly to the Transition Fund.

Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “At a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet, the Hardship Fund will provide invaluable support to those with HIV in greatest need. Alongside stigma and discrimination, poverty is a major issue affecting many people with HIV. In fact, research tells us nearly one in three have ongoing problems getting enough money to live on.

“Grants made through the Hardship Fund might be used to help someone with basic requirements like food or winter clothing. But perhaps just as importantly, they will give Terrence Higgins Trust and our partner agencies a stronger link with those in greatest need of support, allowing us to work closely with them in the long-term to improve their situation.”

For enquiries about the Hardship Fund, including how to make an application, please call (020) 7812 1682, or email hardshipfund@tht.org.uk.

Anyone who is living with HIV and in financial difficulty can call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 to receive free and anonymous advice on their situation.