HARP have said farewell to Gill Garwood after 14 years as Chief Executive, and welcome new Chief Executive, Jackie Bliss, to continue the charity’s good work in the town.
Originally just a small group of volunteers, HARP was founded to help homeless people in Southend find shelter and support away from the streets. Over the years HARP has evolved to become a trusted and credible charity helping 5,710 people over the last 5 years.
HARP have developed many services, including rehabilitation from drug and alcohol misuse, support for ex-offenders, and a new single gender hostel for homeless women, and hope to continue to evolve to meet the need of people facing homelessness in Southend.
Whilst HARP’s main objective is, and always has been, to support local homeless people, under Gill’s leadership HARP developed a huge array of services that don’t just serve to eliminate homelessness, but also offer safe accommodation, improved health outcomes and better life chances.
When reflecting on the journey that HARP have taken, Gill said “ultimately, those who have found themselves trapped on the streets with nowhere to turn, now have accommodation in the town.” She continued “over the last four years, 146 long term rough sleepers have been housed by our trained and dedicated team which is testament to what people in difficult circumstances can achieve when the right resources are available to them.”
New Chief Executive, Jackie Bliss, is really excited about her new role with HARP, and is very much looking forward to taking over the helm from Gill. Jackie said "I have supported HARP's work for many years, and have been impressed by everything it has achieved and the impact it has had. Homelessness is an issue I care deeply about, as I know it could happen to anyone. So I feel privileged to have this opportunity to be able to work for - and lead - an organisation which really has changed thousands of lives for the better and whose work has, quite literally, been a life saver for many more."
Jackie is passionately committed to the cause of homelessness and is already planning her first fundraiser for HARP, a 46-mile bike ride in July. If you would like to fundraise for HARP, visit: www.harpsouthend.org.uk/fundraise or contact HARP on 01702 615000 to find out how you can support local homeless people.