“Thanks to the MAD Trust, we at the Crescent can guarantee our vital counselling service for the whole of the next year.”

“The MAD Trust has really made a difference for the Crescent. It has enabled us to supply a consistent counselling service to people who greatly need that service.”

“Thanks to the MAD Trust, we at the Crescent can guarantee our vital counselling service for the whole of the next year.”

The Crescent Support Group is a registered charity (no. 1003547) providing holistic support both by and for those affected by HIV/AIDS. We are a member-led organisation based in St Albans serving clients in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and sometimes from further afield. The charity has been serving the HIV positive community for nearly 30 years. Many of our volunteers are current or former clients, and several of our trustees are people living with or affected by HIV. Because of this and our long experience as a charity we are able to provide services that are tailored specifically to the needs of the individuals we serve.

In addition to the support we provide to our members and their families, we promote and undertake testing facilities and assist with the delivery of HIV-specific and wider sexual health education in schools and colleges as well as promoting public awareness of HIV-related issues. Since losing our previous contract funding in the local authority spending cuts of 2010/11, the Crescent has survived through the hard work of our two phenomenally committed and indefatigable staff members, our volunteers and the generous financial support of charities and concerned individuals. It is vital that we continue providing support to this disadvantaged and hugely under-represented community.

The Crescent Support Group Extended Counselling Project Summary

A significant proportion of our members (the people living with HIV who depend upon us for support) present with or (sometimes) subsequently develop mental health issues. Our experience is that they benefit greatly from counselling sessions with high quality professional counsellors deeply familiar with this area of work. We also find that counselling can help partners and family supporters who are struggling to come to terms with a loved one’s HIV diagnosis. In some cases, counselling needs to be both intensive and long term. As a general proposition, appropriate counselling of a sufficient quality is rarely available through the NHS or Social Services.

The Crescent has supplied a high quality counselling service for many years. We are, however, an unfunded organisation largely dependent upon the support of private donors and charitable trusts. The extent of the counselling service we have been able to supply has constantly been constrained by budgetary limitations and we have been forced to suspend the service from time to time when funds have been tight. In short, the demand for this vital service has outstripped our financial resources.

The Extended Counselling project made possible by the financial support we are receiving from the Make a Difference Trust and Herts Community Foundation will enable us to supply a sustained and dependable counselling service to all our members who need it and to take in new members in need of support from a counsellor in the certain knowledge that we will be able, for the next 12 months, to supply this key service in a comprehensive manner and without interruption.