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End of safe-sex ball 'will hit HIV charity'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 19, 2013

University of Exeter

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A sexual health charity fears the cancellation of a "safer sex"-themed student ball could affect its frontline services.

The Eddystone Trust admitted key services would be in jeopardy without an annual donation of £20,000 from the University of Exeter's Safer Sex Ball (SSB) – cancelled after CCTV footage emerged on the internet of participants apparently engaged in sexual activity.

Its leading charitable beneficiary stressed the money from the ball – one of the country's biggest Aids-awareness events – was a "significant resource" for a variety of HIV support services provided across the South West.

The Students' Guild confirmed last week the event could "no longer exist" due to "negative reputational damage" after sacking members if its own staff for filming and circulating the footage of the couple in the student bar.

But it remains unclear if Guild plans to "reinvent" the ball in the future would affect the amount the trust is given, despite efforts to keep charitable funds in place.

Mags Davies, director at the Plymouth-based charity, said: "£20,000 is not an insignificant sum of money.

"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 (RAG) 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 proposals for a replacement event as "naïve" 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."

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