A CHARITY has spoken out against the cancellation of a University of Exeter event which has courted controversy.
The university's Students' Guild confirmed last week the annual Safer Sex ball will "no longer exist" due to "negative reputational damage".
The announcement came after CCTV footage emerged on the internet of participants apparently engaged in sexual activity – pictures which went on to be featured in many national newspaper.
But the Eddystone Trust, which provides HIV and sexual health services throughout the South West, has said some of its key services could be in jeopardy without the annual donation of £20,000 it receives from proceeds of the event.
It has stressed the money from the ball – which has become one of the country's biggest Aids-awareness events – was a "significant resource" for a variety of HIV support services.
The Students' Guild is also understood to have sacked members if its own staff for filming and circulating the footage of the couple in the student bar.
The event could be "reinvented" in the future but it is unclear whether this would affect the amount the trust is given.
Mags Davies, director at the Plymouth-based charity, said: "Twenty thousand pounds is not an insignificant sum.
"We have established a long-standing relationship with the organisers and thoroughly appreciate their fundraising efforts.
"The money is a significant resource for us to offer a variety of different services, including complementary therapies, educational services and campaigns for particularly vulnerable groups of people. Some of our services would not be provided without the money from the SSB."
She added: "It is a lot of money, especially as it is becoming increasingly difficult to raise money in the current climate."
Organisers Raising and Giving promised to fight the permanent cancellation of the ball, which has been running for more than two decades and is one of the most popular student events of the year.
The group criticised the initial proposals for a replacement event as "naive" and "not in the best interests of the students".
It said any change of format "would undoubtedly" damage its success and the benefits to charity.
RAG claimed the trust "will lose" its £20,000 donation and said other charitable groups would also suffer.
It warned canceling the SSB left the door open for rival promoters to host an event without charitable aims.
RAG said in a statement: "We will look to run an SSB next academic year.
"We hope that the Students' Guild will recognise the popularity of the SSB with the students and its inherent charitable mission.
"However, if this will not be the case then we will seek alternate means of funding and running the event."