River House is a community based centre for people who live with HIV. We provide a large and diverse range of services such as nursing advice, counselling, benefits advice, complementary therapies and educational courses, plus a delicious meal each week day.
River House merger with Cara Trust
During the mid-1980s Fr David Randall, who founded Cara, had been providing pastoral care for people living with HIV/AIDS in his West London parish of St Clement’s, Notting Dale. In 1987 his bishop encouraged him to take a sabbatical year in the USA, working as a chaplain in a San Francisco hospital where there were many AIDS patients.
On his return to London in 1988 he started Cara with a launch meeting in St Stephen’s hospital, Fulham Road, where he worked for 2 days a week on the Thomas Macaulay ward.
By 1989 the project had moved to a basement in Lancaster Road in Ladbroke Grove, owned by the Delamere Trust, opposite the old London Lighthouse building. As well as offering care to those directly affected, through its AIDS Ministry courses Cara helped to work out the implications of HIV for all churches and pastoral agencies, given the high incidence of loss amongst gay men and drug users, mostly young and unchurched. Funerals, counselling, complementary therapies, community meals, and religious events were offered through a small staff team and many volunteers.
Soon the Basement became too small and the office moved to St Andrew’s Methodist Church in the same road. The Basement became the service centre, run by volunteers.
David himself was diagnosed HIV positive in 1988 and sadly died in the Lighthouse building in 1996. By 1997 the new combination therapy drugs began reducing AIDs deaths and Cara’s emphasis shifted to supporting people to live as fully as possible. From 2010 onwards our emphasis started to switch to supporting people as they grew into older age with HIV and in 2018 Cara merged with our friends at River House in Hammersmith, to form the new River House Trust charity.