Female service users at HARP's Bradbury Centre were treated to a hand-out of handbag essentials last Friday thanks to an initiative by a group of generous ladies.
Lead by Lorraine Harper from Rayleigh, women accessing vital services at The Bradbury Centre, as well as those staying in our emergency night shelter, were each given a donated handbag filled with indispensable items.
Lorraine, who got the idea from a similar initiative which took place in Norwich, said: "I was keen to do something for the women who come to HARP for help, and every girl knows how important the contents of her handbag are!"
"I was really pleased with how many bags we collected as news of the idea spread out among family and friends. It's lovely that each lady who donated a bag came up with her own idea of what to put in it, so every one is unique".
Contents included socks, tissues, sanitary products, make-up wipes and lip balm.
Lorraine was also keen to learn more about HARP's work, and Chief Executive Gill Garwood was on hand to give her a tour of The Bradbury Centre and Night Shelter.
Speaking afterwards, Lorraine said: "It was wonderful to meet some of the ladies being helped by HARP to get back on their feet, as well as the staff and volunteers. I didn't know what to expect, but the facilities here at the Centre are fantastic".
Last year 22% of those who came to HARP for help were female, and research shows that single-sex accommodation has a positive contributory effect in supporting formerly homeless people back into independent living.
With work scheduled to begin on a 19-bedroom female-only hostel in the next few months, HARP have made caring for vulnerable homeless women a priority. The new hostel will provide a range of accommodation and specialist services, but it comes at a price and we still need to raise vital funds to ensure we can staff and equip the facility and operate it to its full potential.
You can help by getting involved with HARP in a variety of ways, such as becoming a regular donor, volunteering your time to help out at one of our charity shops, or lending your expertise in organising your own event or initiative to raise funds towards our work.