The Luncheon Club and its clients will be absorbed into existing services at ACON and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation following the charity’s closure this week.

Established 15 years ago by Carole Ann King, the Luncheon Club, with its off-shoot the Larder (providing an opportunity for people with HIV to take home basic food supplies) banded together a group of dedicated volunteers and supporters to provide twice-weekly lunches for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, offering them an opportunity for great food in a welcoming and social atmosphere.

Times were very different 15 years ago for people living with HIV/AIDS, antiretrovirals were yet to be introduced, many people were very sick and death rates were very high. The lunches provided a great way to end the isolation and entertainment fed their souls, says Carole Ann King.

There are many valuable services to assist people living with HIV/AIDS and the Luncheon Club will be in good hands with BGF and ACON. I’m very proud to have established a service that so many people have needed over the years. I’m very grateful to the many volunteers, sponsors, donors and entertainers who have helped over the years.

I have asked ACON and BGF to take over the Luncheon Club because they have the resources and capacity to maintain essential services to very marginalised people in our community.

CEO of the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Bev Lange says that BGF recognises the commitment Carole Ann and her volunteers have shown the hundreds of people who have benefited from the Luncheon Club for such an extended period. BGF already works with many people at the Luncheon Club and I trust that with ACON we can continue the wonderful support that they have become accustomed to.

Carole Ann, the Board, volunteers and supporters of the Luncheon Club have made a phenomenal contribution over many years and now ACON is very pleased to partner with BGF to continue their great work. ACON will be drawing on the experience of the Positive Living Centre to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible, and of course, we hope many of the current volunteers will continue, says Stevie Clayton, CEO ACON.

The number of those living with HIV continues to grow, as do the challenges they face on a daily basis. It is estimated almost 10,000 people are now living with HIV in NSW and 37% of these are living below the poverty line, says Lange.

For this group illness and the side-effects of medication can be debilitating, living long term with HIV will cause depletion of the immune system leading to major episodic illness and social isolation can be overwhelming. For many, a warm, nutritious meal in a friendly atmosphere can make all the difference, added Clayton.

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