Mark has been volunteering with us at HARP for three years. He initially started as a community volunteer, visiting local community groups to raise awareness of HARP’s activities and homelessness as an issue. Whilst giving these talks, Mark decided that the best way to tell people about the services that HARP offer was by getting involved in our frontline activities, so he began volunteering in our Day Centre kitchen.
After taking early retirement, Mark was keen to give back to the local community. He got in contact with SAVS (Southend Association of Voluntary Services), who gave Mark a number of options for volunteering his time. Mark told us, “I had a number of offers on how I could get involved with charity work, but for me, I wanted to do something direct, and I guess homelessness is something that is in the back of everybody’s minds”.
Mark volunteers at The Bradbury Centre’s kitchen once a week, where he helps to set up, prepare and serve breakfast and lunch to local homeless people. They also prepare night packs, which include a drink, a sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar for rough sleepers to collect. Mark said that ‘helping these men and women that are really down on their luck, giving them somewhere warm and safe for a couple of hours in the morning is not difficult for me, and hopefully it means something to them.”
In his three years at HARP, Mark has seen many people come through the doors of The Bradbury Centre and start to improve their lives: “The thing that got me about HARP was that they go through the whole process of getting people back into their own accommodation and standing on their own two feet again.” Mark continued, “There was one service user that I got on particularly well with, he gave me permission to tell his story at the talks I give to groups in the local community. After regularly using the Day Centre, I did not see him for nine months as he had gone on to use HARP’s accommodation services. After these nine months, he came back to visit the centre. I didn’t recognise him at first. He was now smart, neat and tidy. He had been through, what I call, the HARP process; he was waiting for accommodation of his own and was now firing off job applications left, right and centre. You see this kind of transformation and realise the difference that HARP can and do make”.
If you would like to volunteer at HARP and help local homeless people change their lives for the better, please fill out our Volunteer Enquiry Form and we will be in touch with you as soon as we can.