After 15 years Peter is retiring and he's made some changes to the way your contact the trust that will see if financially more viable in future- namely killing the expensive 0800 number.
Statement from the director of The Eddie Surman Trust
After 15 years of running the Eddie Surman Trust I have made the decision to retire.
The line ceased to operate from 28th September 2012 although a number to contact us is available to all callers using the old number and that will remain for the next six months.
When The Eddie Surman Trust was founded in 1996 it was unique in that all of its volunteers were themselves HIV positive and we offered help and support to people who felt they could not cope following an HIV diagnosis.
In 1996 the mobile phone was still considered a novelty for businessmen and as such the majority of our calls came from landlines and payphones.
Over the years this has changed as mobile phones, along with the internet, are now an essential part of many peoples lives.
HIV medication has made dramatic progress in the last 15 years as well and more and more newly diagnosed people can now expect to live a relatively normal life span compared to back then and beyond.
Over the last two years I have been monitoring the type of calls to Positiveline and have noticed that 90% of all calls made to us are from mobile phones. Calls from payphones are now very rare and landline calls make up the other10%.
Being a free-phone helpline this means that the caller from a mobile phone is being charged as is the trust and with telephone bills reaching £500 per quarter this is no longer viable.
I took a long time to make this decision but decided that it was not practical to keep the line operating. It is becoming more and more difficult to raise funds at a time of great financial hardship for many people.
However, the trust now has a Facebook page which is updated daily with HIV news from around the world and a mobile contact number for anyone wanting help or support and enquiries from this source are already higher than the helpline and there is no cost to the trust at all. The page will be developed over time to keep it fresh and relevant to positive people.
Also, on a personal level, I am not getting younger and this has not been a good year following the attack on me in Brighton and then breaking my shoulder, which also led to a diagnosis of severe Osteoporosis. It has been a personal battle recently to be able to help other people as I would have liked and feel that I have reached a level of burn out from which I need to recover in private.
For 15 years along with a small team of dedicated volunteers we have answered the helpline every day of every year since 1997.
The trust will contain in its new format as The Eddie Surman Trust & Positive Online.
The trust will continue to run The Midmonth Group, our social support group for positive gay men.
I also thank you for your amazing support of the trust over the last 15 years.