A Cambridge HIV charity says it could be forced to shut its doors after Cambridgeshire County Council introduced a new tendering process that the charity claims prevents it from applying for vital funds.
Dhiverse has been providing high quality sexual health and HIV support, education and information in Cambridge for over 35 years.
Daniel Zeichner MP met Sharron Spindler, CEO for Dhiverse, on Friday 14 February for crisis talks on Dhiverse’s future. Ms Spindler says unless a new emergency source of income can be found, she will be forced to make half of the Dhiverse staff redundant and give notice on their HQ at Dales Brewery on Gwydir Street where the charity has been for 24 years.
Dhiverse currently provide support to around 60 people living with HIV, across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Mr Zeichner and Ms Spindler discussed the procurement process and urged the council to look at sensible solutions, including splitting the tender.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “I am deeply concerned for the future of Dhiverse. This is a well respected local charity which has built up a meaningful relationships with its clients over many years. I fear for some residents who are accessing Dhiverse’s counselling service about the unnecessary stress a change could bring.”
Sharron Spindler said: “We could lose the core services on which Dhiverse was founded – ‘Support for people living with and at risk of HIV’ and ‘Education & Training around HIV & the importance of sexual health for the wider community’. We feel that the arrangements for the tender preclude Dhiverse and some other organisations from leading a bid, or make it difficult to collaborate with other organisations on a bid. Had we know this earlier, we could have put our efforts into trying to generate other income to keep our services and staff, rather than into ensuring we delivered our current Public Health, to our usual high standard, in the hope it stood us in good stead for the new service. This tender process has, in our opinion, been inequitable and whilst I understand that the council has to abide by procurement rules, it seems that no consideration has been given to the commitment Dhiverse has shown to providing services on behalf of the council for the last 10 years.”