A National Citizen Service group based at Southend United Community Education Trust spent a week raising awareness of homelessness in Southend. The group of 16-17 year olds walked from the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend to Shoebury East Beach to raise funds for HARP, they also spent a whole week researching the issue and working hard to raise awareness of the problem that affects so many people across the UK.
NCS participant Mackenzie Kittle-Purcell, 16, said “there are many reasons why we have chosen HARP as our charity, all of us feel that the charity is close to our homes and also our hearts. We know that it is a big problem in the local area, Southend being the 8th most affected area in the United Kingdom.”
She continued “Many of us have already have had experiences with HARP through our secondary schools, and aside from raising awareness it has allowed us to stop overlooking other issues that surround the problem of homelessness, such as mental health and possibly drug and alcohol misuse.”
Homelessness is a complex issue and often the catalyst is many underlying issues that have built up over time. HARP engage regularly with local schools and community groups to raise awareness of the depth of the issue. Over the last 5 years HARP have extended their available accommodation from 77 to 174 rooms, but whilst affordable housing is crucial to ending rough sleeping, it is the combination of emotional and practical support that will ultimately help an individual to overcome homelessness for good.
The NCS group decided to fundraise for HARP to help towards the ongoing costs of homeless services in Southend and raised over £50 for the local charity. Lisa Walton, HARP’s Community Fundraiser, said “we spend a lot of time talking with young people in the community about homelessness and the work we do at HARP, not just because it is important that our next generation are aware of the services available in Southend for people in crisis, but also so that they have a deeper understanding about the complexities associated with homelessness.”
She continued “at HARP we have a dedicated pathway for 18-25 year olds where there is a huge focus on education, training and building the necessary life skills for a better future and this is vital for young people that perhaps have had a disadvantaged start to life. Early intervention is crucial for avoiding long term issues and we hope one day to be able to catch people before they hit crisis point which is why recognising the early signs is so important.”
If you would like to book a talk about homelessness in Southend for your school or community group or would like raise money to help HARP reach out to more in crisis, contact Lisa Walton on 01702 615000 or visit www.harpsouthhed.org.uk/get-involved