Not everyone knows that the Brighton Half Marathon is run by The Sussex Beacon, but that fact is more important now than ever, as the HIV charity is threatened with closure.
The charity offers specialist care and support to Sussex residents living with HIV, but it is facing the prospect of closing services, including its ten-bed inpatient unit, following a reduction in government funding. Simon Dowe, chief executive of The Sussex Beacon, said: “Since our announcement that the charity may have to close services, we’ve had a huge amount of support from the local community which we’re incredibly grateful for. We’ve had over 10,000 signatures on the petition to save the charity and we’ve set up a campaign page, to outline to supporters how they can help.”
He said conversations about funding are ongoing, and the charity is looking to share resources with other local organisations, and secure more funding from other sources like charitable trusts.
“In terms of what next, we’re continuing to work on all the elements I’ve just mentioned while we await final funding decisions from a number of different sources,” said Mr Dowe. “We’re also aiming to keep our campaign high profile and we’re working with local MPs on a plan to officially ‘present it to parliament’ to raise awareness at Government level.”
But why is the charity so important?
“It’s unique,” said Mr Dowe. “Treating only people living with HIV, staff are specialists, dealing with everything from serious HIV related illnesses like cancer, to drug regime issues or mental health problems. Service users have the opportunity to meet other people with HIV and support each other as they recover and they have no worries about facing stigma or ignorance. In September, the Care Quality Commission rated The Sussex Beacon ‘outstanding,’ commenting that the response to individual needs was exceptional. Currently the Sussex Beacon provides over 2,000 bed nights a year. If services close, people are likely to be directed to more generic services in already overstretched hospitals and healthcare settings. “
On the history of the Brighton Half Marathon, he said: “A small group of individuals started the race back in the early 1990s and the money raised from that very first race was used to help fund the building of The Sussex Beacon. Now in its 27th year, the race has grown in numbers and stature and it is now one of the largest running events in the South East and a significant fundraising event for many worthy charities and causes. We’re very proud of the event and we’re confident it will remain a key part of the racing calendar for years to come.”