We received a bumper response to our ‘Sponsor a Meal’ Christmas campaign, with over 1,700 festive dinners served up to some of the town’s most vulnerable people.
The campaign exceeded its target of £10,000, enabling us to use the extra money generated to continue providing essential services, while also working towards the goal of ending rough sleeping in Southend. Gill Garwood, HARP’s Chief Executive says: “We want to thank everyone who donated to our Christmas appeal, and it’s wonderful to have exceeded our target. It means so much to those who need support to get back on their feet, and HARP simply couldn’t exist without the generous help of the people of Southend”.
Bradbury Centre service user Amy, 45, from Southend, said: “It’s been great to see everyone enjoying themselves and forgetting about their problems for a little while. Christmas can be a hard time for many people, but today has been a lot of fun”.
As well as enjoying hot and hearty food, those who came along to our Bradbury Day Centre in York Road were treated to entertainment including live music, a Christmas carol choir and a brass band. Lending to the party atmosphere, volunteers pitched in with HARP staff to help out in the kitchen and organise lively party games. Free haircuts were also on offer, and every visitor received a gift pack created from the many donations of clothing, toiletries and chocolate generously provided by local people and companies.
A surprise visit from Lesley Joseph and Brian Conley, the stars of Southend’s ‘Cinderella' pantomime, lifted everyone’s spirits when they spent time looking around The Bradbury Centre. They spent time chatting to staff, service users and volunteers, happily posed for photos, and even left a generous donation.
Community groups also did their bit in helping to provide for residents of our various hostels, as well as rough sleepers – a group who face particular hardship during the winter months. Donations of money, food vouchers and other critical items flooded in, with one group taking the initiative to create ‘rough sleeper rucksacks’ packed with necessities such as energy bars, gloves, hats and bottled water. The rucksacks were handed out to users of the Bradbury Centre’s rough sleeper breakfast, and many were deeply touched by the kind gesture.
Our work continues year-round to alleviate problems faced by homeless people in Southend. We’ve pledged to end rough sleeping in Southend, but YOUR help is needed to make it happen!
For full details of how to donate, click on the ‘Donate & Support HARP’ link. You can also find details of how to make other kinds of donations, or become a volunteer.