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Hertfordshire: HIV charity faces imminent closure due to council funding axe

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  1. Cardinal Capone 3 Sep 2012, 10:00am

    What an angel this individual is. He deserves more support.

    1. well if someone is prepared to carry on working without pay then something must be wrong somewhere….

  2. Martin davies 3 Sep 2012, 10:16am

    What is the possibility of the other charity taking over the closing centre as it’s second base? It may feel like favouritism but here in Dudley Borough some social services have been cut by the Conservatives atogether, so you are actually lucky to have one centre open at all. The big centre here has funds from health, selling courses and building hire, do you do likewise?

    1. i think the issue here is that the other lot have got this lot’s money, surely if there is enough money for two why would you close one and give the other their money?

      1. This happens constantly as a result of the way successive Governments have contracted out HIV & Sexual Health services under the guise of Statutory Funding – turning many charities into arms length Gov depratments. This is the result – salami slicing the available funding through poor commissioning decisions & charities having to bid against each other; this has resulted in duplication of services & inefficiencies.

        At a time when HIV / STI infections are on the increase the Government needs to either run the services itself via the NHS (bad move me thinks) or invest more money so that the various charities up & down the country can make a meaningful contribution to improving HIV / STI awareness & support the vulnerable within our community.

        The Gov desperately need to come up with a credible comprehensive National Strategy for HIV / Sexual Health – charities such as NAT, THT etc are in the process of creating a “shadow policy” as the Gov has shown no leadership in this area!

  3. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of cuts that Local Authorities & the Government are making. The uncertainty created by the Health & Social Care Bill which will see LA’s become responsible for HIV prevention is only going to make things much worst.

    We are likely to see a rash of smaller charities close (not just in the HIV sector) in the next year or so.

    Charities such as THT are not immune to such cuts – the charity’s helpline THT Direct has had funding it’s removed. This is a key service for many individuals concerned about HIV & plays a vital role for those in need of immediate help & support.

    As has been shown in the case of Crescent duplication of services is not cost effective & charities must work together to remove such duplication if they are to survive.

    The ridiculous Statutary funding & short term contract letting by the Govenrment & LA’s means charities are often pitted against each other & as we see in this case it is the service users that lose out.

    1. The DoH has just awarded £8m to both THT and FPA for prevention work, I refer

      1. That funding is for Health Promotions – Not the THTDirect Helpline – The frontline service funding has been awarded to SERCO – who collect my rubbish here in Winchester – not the best qualification for providing Sex advice is it – oh and SERCO also fund the Conservatives – How Corrupt are things going to get?

        1. Seems £500m Virgin contract should be included then into this discussion,

        2. There are those on PN who have been calling for this sort of thing – Serco are an infrastructure company, they run the Docklands Light Railway. What possible interest can a contract like this be to them, expect to make money for shareholders! Whilst they may be able to trim the costs associated with the technical operation of a telephone helpline how will they train their staff to the high standard that we have come to expect from the likes of THT?

          THT Direct will continue to operate the helpline but at reduced operational hours & will become more reliant on volunteers which some PN commentators have been critical of, describing THT volunteers as “part of the rot”.

          You reap what you sow – lets hope the THT critics never need help when the helpline THTD is not open & instead have to talk to a monotonous scripted call centre operative to get help & advice on HIV / Sexual Health. Contract letting based purely on price is plain wrong & results in poor standards – look at G4S!

          1. I suggests the questions here is how many organizations/services do we need from the accumulative resources provided by Central and Local Government The ASG in England is worth about £23 and £28 million respective for the years 2011-12 and 2012-13 If correct, LGBT switchboard operates a national helpline. What about (though in the past UKC has not be better!

            THT income and expenditure was some £21m until the new accounts are published how will we know the true picture of this decline in services?

            I worked and suggested a Pan London approach (commissioned services, transparent up front approach) and we are constantly reminded of such charities as Mildmay needing funds, what happened there?, NAZ, what happen there? Body Postive, what happen there, get the trend?

            Its seems services are only provided if the money is paid to service it?

          2. The Pan London HIV Prevention project has been a complete shambles – it certainly has not been transparent or accountable. It has made some disasterous commissioning decisions in the past, which has only wasted vital money that could have been used in frontline HIV services.

            I agree that HIV / Sexual Health Charities need to have a more collaborative approach, which I believe is now starting to happen. However there are those who have been highly critical of the move towards providing a National Charity such as THT. Some Gay men in particular feel it is their right to have a dedicated Sexual Health Charity & that THT are no longer serving their needs (not something I agree with).

            It all comes down to having the correct strategy & funding in place – something we will never see from this Government as they are showing no leadership on HIV /Sexual Health issues.

  4. Suzanne Bannister 3 Sep 2012, 10:55am

    Herts Aid are the “other” charity mentioned in this article. In the interests of ensuring service users have accurate information, I would like to point out that Herts Aid has a base in Watford as well as Ware, both our sites are open from 9am-5pm. The phone number for our Watford site is 01923 803440. Service users can call for an appointment, and can also be seen in a venue of their choice in the community, or in their homes. Please see our website for more information

    1. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 1:27pm

      …and Watford is 45mins away from St Albans.
      Sounds like problem sorted.
      Storm. Teacup.

      1. Samuel B. 3 Sep 2012, 3:38pm

        …and but a half hour train ride away from central London!

      2. would be if the place in Watford was ever open, and was just for HIV, but its not, unlike the place near Hertford… I don’t think people would be making this much fuss if it was as good? have a look at savethecrescent blog… seems this is not as clear cut as it might seem at first…

        1. Spanner1960 4 Sep 2012, 12:31pm

          Well that’s not what the people that run it are saying.

      3. you seem to have all the answers so tell me how would an old person on a mobility scooter get there ?? how would a 75 year old get there?? how about someone suffering depression who cant travel outside st albans?? or maybe someone who has no money but can walk to the cresent?? do you want them to walk to watford ?? dont say ask for home visit as firstly doubt hertsaid would turn up, secondly they may want to meet locally with the group for support and to socialise ?????

    2. What about grant funding from the EJAF? or other charitable resources?

    3. why would you need to call for an appointment? looking at your website u have enough people to open both without that? As a Watford resident i can assure you this place is not open all the time, never anyone there when i have been, and that is often, this Suzanne person talks drivel..

    4. ware is in the middle of no mans land and people from st albans and nearby dont want to go to watford, i live near st albans i can chose which clinic i use so why should we not be able to choose to go to the crescent !! they have done fabulous work for 25 years and if they go people will suffer, their health will suffer…you dont need to make appointment at the crescent its an open house and they dont discriminate by wearing NAME BADGES !!!!

  5. There was a time of course when charities were just that:- independent, voluntary-led organisations run by people motivated enough to raise funds using their imaginations and not allowing themselves to become reliant and dependent on government handouts and thereby duty bound to follow government guidelines and adhere to PC protocols lest that funding be stripped away.

    I am not necessarily blaming the west Hertfordshire nor any other charity for that matter for allowing themselves to be co-opted by central government, but they should have the sense to prepare a plan B in the event that such funding is suddenly swept away.

    Other HIV charities need to realise that that this is only the tip of the iceberg as the vile Tories seek to throw all those dependent on handouts and welfare to the wolves, eventually, and the gay community via its media need to be participating in initiatives that secure funding for these essential organisations to ensure their long-term survival.

    1. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 1:25pm

      But charities should only be where there is insufficient government support, and as somebody who lived and worked in Hertfordshire for over 20 years, there was plenty of NHS support across the county, so I really don’t see why these are necessary. The problem is this country is in SERIOUS debt, and the only way out is to cut the purse strings; either these sort of things go, or it is going to get a whole lot worse.

      1. so would you be happy to have no doctor or hospital to go to?? you appear to have no knowledge/sympathy to those living with or affected by hiv at all, if these sort of things (as you call them go ) people suffer and more people will become infected !! WE NEED THE CRESCENT !!

    2. i think this lot have tried this, looking at their accounts it seems they didnt get much money anyway, and having read stuff on their blog it seems they have been trying for two years to get money elsewhere so looks like they have been trying…

  6. The Tories and their gang of thugs and supporters are to be blamed for this, irrespective of their sexuality. Just last week another person has passed away because of their systematic neglect. They are siphoning money off the most vulnerable in our society into their own pockets. It has been predicted.

    1. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 1:22pm

      Tories! of course it is.
      All Thatcher’s fault. Blah Blah… Rhubarb rhubarb…

      Change the damned record, please.

  7. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 1:20pm

    I am not anti these organisations, but it begs the question why we need these people at all? What’s wrong with the NHS sexual health clinics? Isn’t this just trying to reinvent the wheel?

    1. There is some mileage in increasing the role sexual health clinics have in HIV prevention. The British HIV Association together with British Association of Sexual Health & HIV are very much in favour of this sort of approach.

      The NHS run clinic, 56 Dean Street in London has pioneered a feasible model of how prevention strategies can be developed in the future – however even the large HIV clinics do not have the resources to help those living with HIV, with many aspects of living with HIV. Those who are getting older & having to cope with the damage done by the very early HIV drugs are very much in need of the support HIV charities offer. HIV “geriatric” medicine is in it’s infancy as is the social care that will be required – many of these people (including their clinicians) did not expect to be living well into their 60’s /70’s.

      You appear to have a very simplistic view of the problem Spanner – but this is a Tory trait, all headline no workable details (pasty tax)!

      1. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 10:51pm

        I merely asked the question to which you supplied an articulate answer.

        Why do you then have to make a complete twat of yourself by making inane and condescending comments at me at the end?

        1. Perhaps if you were less combative in your general demeanour I might not feel the need to fight fire with fire, that is why!

          All too often both yourself & Samuel have spouted off with no provocation……….I and other contributors find your tone overly aggressive.

          1. Spanner1960 4 Sep 2012, 12:34pm

            As I have said, I speak my mind.
            My aggressive approach is simply my nature, and it is not directed at anyone specifically unless that person flies back at me. In this case I was being perfectly amenable, but you decided to lash out anyway.

            I would suggest it is you who is being combative here, not I.

          2. Ah I see, so we have to put up with your aggressive manner because it is in your nature & not retaliate. It is one you rule you & the rest of us can go take a run & jump. How very inclusive & considerate of you!

            I have been in touch with Pink News & they are aware of the problem that exists on these comments forums & are reviewing their moderation policy – perhaps now would be a good time to refrain from using the words “cretin, fckwit, twat,” etc.

          3. Spanner1960 8 Sep 2012, 11:34am

            Why? And deny others of the fact that you are indeed, a twat?

            Go tittle-tattle to teacher and see if I care.
            If you don’t like my approach I suggest you go and spread your lefty propaganda elsewhere where it is full of people that won’t criticise you, like say, The Guardian.

          4. Most people seem to be able to get their point across without using offensive terms to refer to others – what makes you think you should have the right to virtually attack other comment page users? Roll on the day when they introduce some form of moderation / registration…….

    2. sexual health clinics deal with ones health , the crescent offers a place to go to chat have coffee they provide ladies lunches, sunday lunches, gay mens evenings the list is endless tto many services to list here but for some a safe place to go where they can talk and be themselves for some who fear telling family for whatever reason this place is their lifeline, hertsaid do nothing take the money ?? and do what with it ? unless you are faced with this situation yourself you will not understand why the crescent is so badly needed !!

      1. It needs to be saved…that much is obvious…

    1. Suzanne Bannister 3 Sep 2012, 4:01pm

      Herts Aid became an incorporated charity in 2010, with a new charity number and company number, and therefore the old Herts Aid was closed. That is why the accounts from the past 10 years are not on there. This is unfortunately the way the charity commission operates

    2. Suzanne Bannister 3 Sep 2012, 4:13pm

      Herts Aid became an incorporated charity in 2010 and dissolved the old Herts Aid. Unfortunately this means that the charity commission took down details of the old charity, hence there are no accounts on their website for the past 10 years. This was beyond our control unfortunately

      1. What rubbish ! No wonder u r defending this, u r the manager of the agency who got the money… what are you doing with your half a million plus of tax payers money then ??? bet you are doing alright out of it… how is it you only give less than a day of support in Watford but 5 in Ware? hardly the same is it?

        1. Suzanne Bannister 3 Sep 2012, 7:27pm

          Do not know where you are getting your info from but it is false. As I said, our Watford site is open for the same amount of hours as Ware (37.5hrs per week). I would be saying nothing if real facts were being written in these articles, but consistently untruths are being written and printed, and at the end of the day, my only concern is the end user, who has a right to be given the whole picture about what services are on offer as an alternative

          1. If it is all untrue surely they wouldnt print it? there must be evidence somewhere to back it up? If County Councillors are backing The Crescent there must be something in it??? From reading stuff in their save the crescent blog it seems that local councillors and MP’s, Lords and Local Papers all think this isnt working, can’t all be wrong can they?? Or are you saying as the other agency that if noone agrees with you they must be wrong?

          2. if the people who should be using your service are complaining then something must be wrong? Seems they have been on the radio and in the papers complaining? This is a surprise as i understand people living with HIV tend to hide their identity cos of the backlash they get from idiots. If they feel so strongly about it they are coming forward to talk to the press then surely your service is missing the mark somehow? If you feel so strongly about the end user then shouldnt you be listening to these people? The fact that you appear not to be (I’ve read your letters to the paper about this) says it all really. It looks like you have had two years nearly to tell everyone what you do, and it looks like you have been told that is not good enough, but you keep doing it? doesnt sound like you really care at all….

  8. The ASG for 2011/12 was just £464,000 and £508,000 2012/13 , other grants such as carers, supporting people, health …….. would have also be provided to Herts CC through the ABG (Central Government)

    No of people affected by HIV in Herts is ?

    1. Funds looking at their accounts was less than half that total, seems the other lot get almost three times as much… seems abit imbalanced.. and they are run by a county councillor??? how odd…

  9. Samuel B. 3 Sep 2012, 7:32pm

    Virgin bidding for sexual healthcare services?

    Branson can’t even run his trains on time:- what the hell do these corporate money grubbers know about sexual healthcare?

    If our sexual health is put on the line to the highest corporate bidder it will be the one who who gives the biggest backhanders and bribes to those involved in the selection process who clean up, providing the lightest service possible in order to cream off the profit.

    THT paved the way for these tenders since it began behaving like a corporate monolith, sucking up all available funding while providing basic, often threadbare services and swooping on vulnerable HIV charities and stripping their services to the core to provide a pale version of what went before.

    We need to return to basics and the true meaning of charity and encourage more voluntary input.

    THT was never set up to be eyed as a career option for fat cats!

    1. Spanner1960 3 Sep 2012, 10:53pm

      Because it’s only the people with the money that can pay for it.

      1. Do you know what money is?

        1. Spanner1960 4 Sep 2012, 12:36pm

          Yes, I have lots of it.

          1. can you donate some to the crescent plz if you have lots they need some any donation greatly appreciated…

    2. This is the kind of set up you have wished for Samuel, so why are you now complaining?

      I think you will find it is Government who introduced the concept of Statutory funding which has resulted in the shambles we now see & has created a dog eat dog mentality across the charity sector.

      On an upbeat note you will be pleased to learn that THT has realised one of its property assets to raise funds to ensure it has enough liquid reserves to weather the financial storm. Interestingly individual Charitable giving has increased in the last financial year, & the member base has risen to 10,000, great to see THT in a strong position as things are only going to get tougher.

      Be careful what you wish for Samuel!

      1. Samuel B. 4 Sep 2012, 1:16pm

        Please provide evidence to back up your scurrilous claim W6

        I assume I am also now free to respond to your postings on related threads?

        Please clarify.

        1. I do not see anything “vulgar, coarse, or abusive language foul-mouthed” about my statement that Government introduced the concept of Statutory funding, if this is what you are referring to. The GLC provided THT with a £17,000 grant in 1985 which enabled thm to pay 2 full time members of staff, so your assertion that THT has previously been only voluntary funded is incorrect. All this information is in the public domain so I do not understand why you question everything regarding THT et al. It is fine not to agree with the likes of THT, but to make assertions that are incorrect is spiteful!

          Many Charities receive Statutory funding, the total spend was £13.9 Billion in the 2009/2010 financial year, which has grown yr on yr from £8.6 billion in 2000/2001. You may not agree with this concept; I believe you are wrong to single out the UK’s HIV charities the way you do. Charities are far more efficient than Central or Local Government at delivering the kind of services that THT provide.

          1. Then why call them charities when they are nothing of the kind?

            Why not just call THT a quasi-autonamous government organisations, or quango, which it really is?

            Charities in the true sense of the word do not have an umbilical cord to the seats of power and by association big pharma lobbyists who are well known to pay backhanders for influence.

            Healthcare should be totally impartial and never jeopardised by the interests of corporations who hold their shareholders interests above that of gay men.

            I have nothing against genuine charities receiving government grants so long as there are zero strings attached, but statutory funding is a different matter entirely.

            I would have absolutely no bone to pick with the THT if it was above board about how it operates and stopped calling itself a charity.

            The Charities Commission is to blame for allowing this to happen, with THT and many others.

            That is why the whole system is riddled with PC procedures and protocols which…

          2. do nothing but impede and even reverse progress and tie everyone up in red tape instead of getting on with the job in hand.

            We need a real charity where gay men’s sexual health is concerned:- one which put’s gay men above corporate interests and which can act as a watchdog to the likes of THT and incoming corporate tenderers who are now eyeing up our sexual health as a profitable business.

            What THT does it does efficiently because it is a highly bureaucratised infrastructure.

            But the one thing such tick-box cultures lack is a heart and soul that instinctively puts the needs and genuine well being of its clients first.

            I’m not saying the THT is knowingly callous:- more that it is now just too big, corporate and unwieldy to see how it’s lost touch with those it needs to reconnect to.

            A charitable non-governmental watchdog overseeing sexual health could work alongside THT to impartially guide it in its clients’ interest and ensuring non-interference from the pharmaceuticals.

          3. The one thing that I do not understand with your argument is the link you make between THT & the pharma companies.

            The NHS prescribe & purchase medications not THT, surely it is the clinicians & commissioners that will be in the pocket of the pharma co’s rather than THT? Either I am missing something obvious or you do not understand NHS commissioning arrangements.

            The London HIV commissioning group last year awarded contracts to drug companies that came up with good prices, rather than the most expensive; does this not demonstrate that pharma co’s do not have the influence you seem to think they have? I beleive they have more nfluence in the US than they do in the UK. The US market is very different, drugs are highly marketed.

            Generics will soon be available for many of the first line drugs, as the NHS will not be able to afford the newer drugs that do not have significant benefits other than to make regimens easier to take (quad pill is effectively out of reach of the NHS).

          4. Surely your argument is with successive Governments rather than individual charities who are working within the framework set. We are going to see much more of the Virgin & Serco examples, all this is going to do is fragment & reduce quality of services.

            THT in recent years has been changing, last year the most senior salaried positions were reduced from 6 to 5, & a reduction in head count of 45 WTE (13% reduction).

            HIV prevention is much more than THT et al alone, the NHS via sexual health clinics have a bigger role to play, there needs to be a much more collaborative approach, which is now at rsk because of the NHS reforms.

            The mode of funding you beleive THT work to in not correct as I see not evidence to support this position. Not everyone who contracts HIV uses THT services. THT Direct last yr took approx 22,000 calls, many of which were from HIV neg people seeking advice. If you can demonstrate a direct link between new infections & THT funding I will take back my words.

          5. Given the current economic climate there will be further rationalisation of HIV service providers, I would much prefer THT to merge with a struggling provider than allow Serco or Virgin to get a bigger share of the money pot.

            You have an aspiration for a gay men’s HIV charity, unless you are prepared to set it up it will not happen – even the likes of former heavyweights such as Peter Scott have yet to be successful in this quest, because such an organisation would not have enough resources to bid for contracts to survive.

            I deal in the hear & now because every day I get to read about yet another new infection, sometimes it is 2 or 3. These people often think their lives have ended which I think is very sad in 2012.

            No one wants HIV sh!t happens many newly infected feel they have no support or anyone to talk to, & the reason for this is one word “stigma”. It is not suprisng that I will always challenge views on HIV stigma, call it PC but it is very real for those who feel it.

          6. Samuel B. 5 Sep 2012, 1:15pm

            As you correctly identify, W6, it is the system itself and powers beyond THT’s own making (i.e. successive short-sighted governments) who have got sexual health services into such a mess, which seems irreversible.

            As with the NHS, teaching, law, etc. sexual health has been run into the ground by “progressives” who think accountants acting as consultants can run the country as opposed to those with a compassionate common sense approach.

            You are quite right:- who indeed among us has the will to want to try anymore to reverse this ghastly mess?

            Certainly not I, and the likes of Peter Scott gave it their best shot but individuals are nothing against the might and dominance of existing structures, even those that are failing.

            Pharma has far more influent over the charity sector than selling meds to the NHS.

            Nick Partridge has strong links with them and has long accepted their funding and kickbacks, contaminating any claims of being independent which a self-respecting charity should be.

          7. What you seem to be suggesting is that as Pharma co.’s contribute to THT funding they are influencing policy & strategy, which I find a very bold statement to make. Are you therefore suggesting that this filters into the design of prevention campaigns?

            Nick Partridge helped design some Medical Research Council Studies in the 80’s the most notable being the Concorde Study, which was a European study that looking at the effectiveness of AZT, the Delta Study that looked at using AZT together with another drug (dual therapy). I am not sure this suggests that Nick Partridge or THT are somehow “contaminated” by the Pharma Co.’s.

            In the last financial year the total corporate unrestricted funding was £64,000 (less than 0.5% of total unrestricted income). What influence do the Pharma co.’s get for this small amount of money?

            You are of course entitled to hold this view, but for me it just doesn’t stack up & in the grand scheme of things I do not believe the “contamination” is significant

        2. On the topic of LSCG and budgets, LSCG spent £256m for 20111-12 Gross, the nett figure is unknown once taxes are returned back to Central Government through PAYE, VAT, Corporation tax etc…… will show a different picture, this is also applicable to THT and the other contractors like SERCO/Virgin….. Virgin Gross contract maybe £500m but it net liability for Government/The Tax Payer is £?

          1. You make a very valid point in relation to the Net cost to the public purse – so often most of us think in Gross terms & forget that the Treasury get monies back. For Companies like Virgin I am very sure that they make use of all the tax loopholes. At least with UK based Charities I am sure all the receipts that are due go back to the Treasury, can we say the same about all private sector companies?

            Interesting debate to be had me thinks!

    3. Here here, so if this lot have been working part paid and part volunteer for a year or more then they deserve our support? right? I wonder how much the other agency get paid, and how many of their staff do things unpaid? This bloke at the crescent seems to be running it with his own money now…

    4. Spanner1960 8 Sep 2012, 11:40am

      The point is that charities need high-end people to manage them.
      Let’s just say I am a post graduate with a good career record, do I go with a well paid city job, or some crappy charity outfit that pays peanuts?
      Oooh, ah! Tough question?

      If you want good people, you have to pay them competitive rates. People work for a living, and whilst many are quite prepared to offer their services for charitable causes, I don’t see why they should subsidise them.

  10. the subject here is the battle to save the crescent !! so why are people discussing tht, virgin, medicine and government !! none of these have anything to do with saving a much needed support centre….

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