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HARP Residents Host Archbishop at Bluebird Housewarming Do

The Archbishop of York Opens Bluebird. Photo credit Gaz De Vere
The Archbishop of York Opens Bluebird. Photo credit Gaz De Vere

On Wednesday, residents at our brand new 50 bed development, Bluebird, hosted the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell to celebrate the building’s official opening at a special housewarming party.

Bluebird, which features an intricate terrace of six brand new shared houses, as well as three renovated properties in Southchurch Avenue, is now home to up to 50 local people who are recovering after a period of homelessness.

The party was featured on ITV News Anglia on Wednesday evening, and you can watch again here from the 11 min 20 second mark.

The high-quality, aspirational accommodation at Bluebird provides a foundation for local people to find stability and live comfortably while they engage with our support services and work towards independent living.

The new build houses are built to environmentally friendly Passivhaus standards, meaning their carbon footprint and energy efficiency are exceptional, and the project has already been shortlisted for two awards at the prestigious Unlock Net Zero Awards.

When working with our architecture partners SKArchitects on the project, a low environmental impact and a high-quality, recovery-friendly design was prioritised.

The residents at Bluebird welcomed guests to the Housewarming Party, including financial supporters and funders of the project, the press, The Mayor of Southend-on-Sea, and the Archbishop, to celebrate the official opening.

Archbishop Stephen grew up locally in Leigh-on-Sea, and has been a long-term supporter and admirer of HARP’s work. His late father John Cottrell was a founding Trustee of the charity, and the family continue to passionately support the cause of homelessness.

Guests enjoyed music, a BBQ, and a tour of the development, as well as a speech and commemorative tree planting from the Archbishop to mark the occasion.

The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said: “It has been a delight to be here today to mark the official opening of Bluebird. This brilliant facility will enhance the vital work HARP does to help people in Southend overcome homelessness for good.

“Having grown up locally and served as the Bishop of Chelmsford, HARP has always held a special place in my heart.

“Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus caring for the poor and the excluded and crying out for justice. Charities like HARP clearly embody these same values and principles. It is very good to see this new beginning and carry on helping a charity which my family has supported for many years.”

Nicky Bowling, Director of Property Development at HARP, said: “It is a great achievement for HARP to create the first Passivhaus of this kind for people recovering from homelessness, demonstrating our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, and recognising the environmental impact we all contribute to.

“We’re so pleased we’ve managed to create high-quality accommodation that makes vulnerable people feel valued and safe in an environment where they can stabilise and progress on their journey to independent living.

“Thanks go to our project design and development team, HARP’s Trustees and our generous funders, who have all worked closely together to achieve the shared vision. Special thanks to Archbishop Stephen for taking the time out of his busy schedule in York, to come to Southend and officially open this exciting new project for us.”

Key Bluebird funders Homes England said: “Despite the current challenges affecting the country, accelerating housebuilding remains our number one priority. We are committed to supporting HARP that have ambitions to build new homes and our investment through affordable housing grant allows us to do that. We’re delighted that this funding has enabled HARP to deliver much needed new homes in Southend.”

You can find out more information and how you can support the Bluebird project here.


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