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At HARP, an important part of helping the people we work with on their journey away from homelessness is provided by our Meaningful Activities program. ​

We offer on average 25 sessions a week to both our residents and people who are rough sleeping and those that visit us in our Bradbury Day Centre. The programme covers a wide variety of subjects, from art classes, to gardening, from social clubs to tenancy sustainment courses and life skills. The sessions are designed to build confidence and self-esteem as well as to gradually help people integrate back into mainstream community activities for example using a local leisure centre.

Damon Starky is the lead for this programme at HARP and explains the benefits of the programme.

“I’ve been running the activity programme at HARP for seven years. These small group activities provide a safe space for people to come together and mix with different people around HARP and the wider community.

Our activities help people who may have, because of their past, become socially isolated to make friends and develop a sense of community. Most people that come along say that the activities have helped to improve their self-esteem, confidence and in time raise their aspirations.

Our experience shows that the activities that work best involve a degree of fun and distraction from day-to-day life. Anything creative such as writing, arts & crafts or Christmas wreath making are generally the most popular activities. Equally people enjoy it when we go out for activities like tennis or football as it allows them to dip their toe back into mainstream society in a safe way.”

A resident and regular user of the Meaningful Activities programme says: “What is great about this programme is you realise you are not alone. You meet other people who may have experienced similar things to you and often you open-up and share things. I’ve definitely seen my confidence really improve through the activities. I’ve set myself some goals for the year ahead and these feel achievable thanks to the help of Damon and the team.”

The activities happen across HARP’s accommodation but as part of the Bluebird development there is a special space called the Hive which is where most things take place.

HARP works with a range of other partners to deliver this programme including STARS, Southend Council and the probation service.

We always welcome support from people who like to give their time to support us. People with skills like photography, sewing, yoga or sports are always appreciated. We’ve even started a football team so if you’d like to challenge us to a game, then get in touch!


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