Make A Difference Trust to Take a Final Bow

Built on the legacy of West End Cares, (est. 1990), the Make A Difference Trust was founded for the sole purpose of supporting those in the theatre community suffering the devastating effects of living with and losing loved ones to HIV AIDS. In that time, the trust has raised millions of pounds and supported hundreds of projects and people. In just one year alone, January 2019 – 2020 we made grants totalling almost one quarter of a Million pounds.

We have built schools, medical centres, we have supported 56 Dean Street, funded self-testing for the theatre community, peer support, we bought fridges for people to store their meds, supported HIV positive children in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa, too many to list here, but a list of which we should all be very proud.

Over the past few years, the board of the Make A Difference Trust have been thoughtfully considering the changing landscape for people living with HIV and AIDS in the UK. While HIV has by no means gone away, we are so proud of how far society has come since we established the Make a Difference Trust.

While we as a charity could see we were no longer needed to provide funds for palliative care or medicines and thankfully those living with HIV began to see greater support than was available to the wider community in the early years of the crisis, there was still an exponential need for support amongst the theatre community. Support we were able to provide, thanks to the support that was shown to us, from that very same community.

While the loss to individuals and the theatre community in the UK has been heartbreaking over this time, the UK is one of the first countries to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target, and London was the first global city to exceed the 95-95-95 target. For our community, the landscape has changed.

Then, 2020 saw a new pandemic; Covid -19. The effect on the theatre community was once again devastating, with theatres closing and the community losing their livelihoods. MAD Trust responded to this epidemic with an Emergency Relief Fund for those onstage and off. Once again, the theatre community came together, and we continued to raise funds via online events.

Whilst these events have continued to bring in funds, as pledged, every penny received from these initiatives, goes directly to help those in the UK theatre community affected by theatre closures as a result of the crisis. Almost all the money we raise is through our theatre events, and so, we have found ourselves with significantly diminishing unrestricted funds this year. Our last fundraising event was December 2019.

As a charity, we have never held substantial reserves, believing that the money raised was to support those in need. Now thankfully theatres are slowly reopening, at different paces and with different performance times. However, we believe it will be some time before theatres are able to support our events, which has made fundraising for the Trust unsustainable.

It is for this reason and with a heavy but proud heart that we bow out and lower the curtain on the Make A Difference Trust, taking with us memories that we can all cherish; Michael Ball wielding his razor at 2012 West End Eurovision, and Imelda Staunton with her marigolds, cleaning up the ‘blood’. Brian May popping in to play at A West End Christmas, the standing ovations, the after show parties the friendships and laughter we have shared. And what we cherish most, the good that we have done and the help we have given over the years.

Thank you all.

Melanie Tranter

1st June 2021