A CHARITY which found itself at risk of closing because of funding cuts has appointed a new head to help secure its long-term future.

Bill Puddicombe will be joining the Sussex Beacon in Brighton in January.

The charity provides care and support to people with HIV/Aids and is the only hospice of its kind outside London.

The Beacon revealed earlier this year it was struggling to cope and its future was uncertain.

This led to a surge in support from the community who raised thousands of pounds to help.

The charity also managed to secure grants and went through a restructure to put it in a better funding position.

Mr Puddicombe will be working with staff and trustees to guide the charity through a period of transition and make it more robust.

He has worked in the voluntary sector since 1980 and has held chief executive roles at organisations dealing with drug and alcohol dependency, homelessness and mental ill health.

Mr Puddicombe said: “It’s true the Beacon has had a difficult year and these are tough times for a lot of voluntary organisations.

“We know, however, the services the Beacon provides are valued and of great importance to the people who use them.

“What we will be concentrating on is the great local support the Beacon has always generated, the quality of the services we provide and how we can generate sufficient funds to continue to make a difference.

“This will require a combination of review of our services, reaching out to funders and a debate with our supporters and stakeholders in the community.

“The goal is to create a sustainable organisation that continues to be relevant and effective for its users.

“I took on the role in because I found the work of the Beacon inspiring, because there is clearly a bright future for the organisation and because my skills and experience correspond well to the role at this point in the organisation’s progress.”

Chairwoman of the charity’s trustees Lynette Lowndes said: “Firstly, I want to thank our staff and volunteers for their professionalism over the last year.

“It has been a difficult time but they have continued to offer first class services to our clients.

“We’re delighted to have recruited Bill.

“The outpouring of support we had when services were under threat shows how valued our services are.

“We now need to make the charity more financially stable.

“This way we can continue to provide that vital support for people living with HIV.”