The sale of the London Lighthouse
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, bids farewell to a landmark in HIV history.
On Wednesday 3rd March we exchanged contracts on the sale of Lighthouse, and we are due to complete the sale at the end of June 2015. Lighthouse West London will be purchased by the Museum of Brands, who plan to relocate from their current premises in Notting Hill.
Throughout the sale, we remained committed to ensuring the important historical legacy of the Lighthouse West London is protected. We are pleased to say that, as a condition of the sale, the memorial garden will be retained as a place of quiet reflection for people with a link to the Lighthouse.
When London Lighthouse opened in 1986 it offered an innovative model of residential and day care for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS and provided a refuge and respite to people marginalised and abandoned because of their diagnosis.
Thankfully the HIV epidemic has changed vastly over the years. When effective HIV treatment was introduced in the mid-1990s, HIV transformed from a terminal illness to a manageable condition and residential services at Lighthouse have come to be no longer required. The Lighthouse children’s centre closed as techniques were developed to ensure that the number of children born with HIV dramatically declined. Currently, less than 100 people a year access our counselling and complementary therapies based in the building.
The sale presents us with a great opportunity to invest the legacy of The Lighthouse back into new services to support people living with and affected by HIV today, and our long-term sustainability. The money will allow us to be even more ambitious in our plans. Today and for the first time in history, there is a real prospect that we can defeat HIV in a generation, both in terms of sustainably reducing transmission, and improving the lives of people living with HIV, something that I am sure the founders of The London Lighthouse would never have thought possible, and would support.
I know that for some people, the sale of Lighthouse will be sad news. Lighthouse has meant a great deal to those who lived through the early years of the HIV epidemic, and those who have a personal connection with the building. However, our focus now must be on the future and ensuring our charity can continue to respond effectively to the challenges and needs of people living today with HIV. We will take time to ensure we make the best use of the funds raised through the sale, which we hope will create further opportunities for innovation.
We remain committed to ensuring the important historical legacy of The Lighthouse and the memorial garden and we will work closely with Museum of Brands to make sure that those with a connection to The Lighthouse continue to have access to the garden. We will also be securing alternative locations in West London for the few services still using the site.
|Dr Rosemary Gillespie is Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust.|