In order to sustain our commitment to helping the homeless in Southend achieve independent living, we need your help! At HARP, we have a shortfall of £250,000 a year every year just to keep our services running. If we were to divide this figure by the number of units of accommodation we have (140) and by the 365 days of the year, you have an amount of (approx.) £5.
We are asking you, the public, to sponsor a bed at HARP for just £5 a night. You can choose to sponsor just one bed for one night (£5), or a bed every night each month for a year (£60). As a family, you may want to sponsor a bed for a week (£35), or as a group for a month (£150). As a company, you may even choose to sponsor a bed for a whole year (£1825). However, you do it, please donate now.
Your donation will help to keep HARP’s services running for the next year. You will be directly helping a homeless person find a bed for the night, and more importantly helping them learn to keep that bed and eventually move on to a bed they can call their own.
Thank you – help us make a difference today.
Please click the link below to donate to the Sponsor a Bed Campaign:
Two HARP residents tell their stories:
Julie’s journey with HARP began two years ago when she was referred by Castle Point Council. Having spent the previous ten years in an abusive relationship, she began to drink and eventually recognised that she couldn’t effectively take care of her then-nine year old daughter.
Of her own accord, Julie made the heart-breaking decision to move her daughter into foster care. Consequently, Julie’s mental health took a rapid downturn, resulting in her falling behind in paying her rent, which lead to her being evicted from her home on Canvey Island.
From an independent woman, who had previously spent many years working in adult social care, her life then took a dramatic turn.
Coming to Southend, Julie met a group of long-term rough sleepers and street drinkers who, she says, took her under their wing, offering her protection and friendship. Of them, Julie says: ‘Looking back, it was a really dangerous situation to put myself in, but I suppose hindsight is a wonderful thing! I was lucky, and I realise that not all women who find themselves in that situation will be as lucky as I was’.
Getting into a treatment programme was, Julie says, the turning point, and she is quick to praise her HARP keyworker, Catherine Storey, for her support.
‘Catherine never doubted I could get better. She’s always there for a chat, or to encourage me if I’m feeling things are getting on top of me. She’s been absolutely fantastic’.
Julie says the ability to be completely honest is instrumental in her recovery. ‘When I started treatment, I was advised to be totally honest with myself and everyone around me, because I’d be cheating myself most of all if I wasn’t. I think one of the most important parts of getting better is being able to learn from past mistakes’.
Now looking firmly towards the future, Julie’s goal is to live independently and be reunited with her daughter, who’s now eleven and of whom Julie says: ‘It’s really important that she has a stable and secure home when she comes back to live with me. I’m determined to get it right, and not rush things in that respect’.
‘I don’t blame anyone for what I’ve been through, and blaming myself and having regrets is a waste of time, too. The best thing I can do for me, my daughter and everyone else is to take one day at a time and stay positive, and I know I’m on the right track’.
Catherine Storey, HARP Project Worker says: ‘Julie has done so well, and is taking all the opportunities available to her at the moment. She's a very determined lady"!
Before coming to HARP Ron had spent 30 years sleeping rough or using night shelters and hostels. He says: ‘I was in care by the time I was six months old, then came out of the care system at eighteen, straight to sleeping on the streets’.
Ron liked to find quiet places along the estuary to sleep, and recalls the sounds of birds and the sense of waking up with nature. For someone who spent years in the confines of institutions during childhood, such a simple pleasure isn’t hard to understand.
Of his accommodation with HARP, he says ‘Everyone’s lovely here, but sharing space with other people isn’t always easy after thirty years of being on your own’.
‘HARP is my safe place, but there’s a big contrast between the quiet places I used to know and here, where I need to learn every new noise. The slamming of the front door or someone rattling pots and pans reminds me I’m not alone’.
It’s clear that Ron didn’t feel being alone was the worst part of living on the streets. Although many homeless people report feelings of isolation and loneliness, one person’s ‘lonely’ can easily be another’s ‘solitary’, and unrelated to alienation. It’s a reminder that simply labelling a group of people as ‘homeless’ doesn’t enable us to recognise individual personalities.
There’s a widespread view that any homeless person offered accommodation would need a good excuse for turning it down. However, the expectation to adapt can quickly result in feelings of pressure and responsibility.
Ron is aware of the triggers that set off such responses. ‘I’m learning when I need to stop and think, and when to speak up and explain how I’m feeling. It’s a learning curve’.
Asked how it feels not to be homeless, his reply touchingly illustrates the balancing act of being part of society, while also remaining an individual. ‘I don’t want to be homeless, but there are bits of homelessness that I miss sometimes’.
Of HARP, he says: ‘They’re nice people, and I don’t feel the pressure I did in other situations I’ve been in. I want things to work out this time’.