HIV charities The Terrence Higgins Trust and London Lighthouse have merged to create the Terrence Higgins Trust Lighthouse. This completes the biggest alliance ever witnessed in the voluntry sector, according to the National Centre for Voluntary Organisations.
Each organisation's PR and marketing departments have also merged, bringing the staff complement to five.
Former THT press officer Marie Ennis has been promoted to assistant marketing and PR director. She will lead two marketing officers, two PROs and one web developer, and will report to director of marketing Christine Armitage.
According to Ennis, the merger will make services for the organisations more flexible and sustainable.
'This is an important merger that will give the umbrella group a higher profile and create better efficiency for delivery of services,' she said.
The merger will create a turnover of pounds 8 million a year, and pounds 500,000 savings a year. Job losses have been ruled out.
Delivery of specific services will still operate under original brands.
'The Terence Higgins Trust has a strong health promotion and counselling reputation, and Lighthouse is well known for its family/relative support services. For those reasons, the charities' brands will remain. But all PR and other operations such as fundraising will be carried out under the THTL name,' explained Ennis.
This is the eighth time in just 18 months that the THT has merged. 'We have merged with smaller regional and other London HIV awareness organisations,' said Ennis.
Intensified competition for public funds and statutory revenue is seen as the main cause of the merger, which follows the April union of the National Aids Trust and Red Ribbon International (PR Week, 28 April).
Head of research at the National Centre for Voluntary Organisations, Andrew Passey said the merger would improve PR operations.
'The public perception is one of too many charities and not enough funds to go round. But the merger trend in the HIV sector makes sense as it is a changing environment. As better treatment becomes available, priorities and campaigns will inevitably change,' said Passey.