top of page

“Without HARP, I would still be on the streets!”- Jess's Story

Jess* had a traumatic childhood. At just 11 years old, she slept rough for the first time. Even at such a young age, it felt safer sleeping on the streets than at home.

“It was awful. People just gave me dirty looks and walked straight past as if I was nothing. No-one offered me help and there were days when it poured with rain.”

In adulthood, a combination of anxiety, depression and problematic relationships once again forced Jess into homelessness. Jess was forced to leave her long-term, volatile relationship, leaving her with nowhere to go.

Jess had no choice but to sleep on the streets again.

“I’ve been with him since I was 16, and we have two young children, but I knew I couldn’t go back,” said Jess. “If I went out, I didn’t know what I’d be coming back to, so it made me not want to go out in the first place, even to get shopping. I don’t want to live like that anymore.”

Thankfully, Jess had been supported by HARP in the past, and knew where to come to get the help she needed.

We were quickly able to offer Jess a room in our single gender accommodation, White Heather House.

“I’ve been on top of the world since coming to HARP. Last time I came here for help, I needed a lot of support, but now I feel much more stable. I remembered a lot of what I learned from my first stay here."

“And because I knew what to expect, it made it much easier to settle in. I am doing group counselling sessions and working with my key worker, but I don’t need as much support and that’s thanks to HARP.”

Jess has dived in to our Meaningful Activities program, and in addition to counselling sessions, she’s taken up music, art and cooking activities, as well as our “Ready to Rent” course.

Jess now feels like she’s been able to move forward much faster as a result of the support she’s received, making good friends along the way.

“The best thing about being at HARP has been the interaction with all the girls in White Heather House. We had a good laugh and they ended up being more like family than friends.”

After just one month in White Heather House, Jess was ready to move into our longer-term supported accommodation, which is the next step to independent living for our residents. Jess is determined to take control of her life.

Jess's resilience is an inspiration and she is looking to the future, hoping for things that so many of us take for granted – a stable life, a job and a home for herself and her children.

“I just want to feel safe and live somewhere where I won’t be told what I can and can’t do, where I won’t get kicked out, and where I can have my children with me. I’m not being controlled anymore. I deserve to be happy and I’m going to keep marching forward.”

Jess has a message for anyone who finds themselves homeless or is worried about losing their home:

“Contact HARP and get the help you need. There’s no need to be ashamed of asking for help. Without HARP, I’d still be on the streets!”

*In order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, names have been changed and photos of a model used.


This is part of our series Two Charities, 20 Years, 20 Stories, celebrating the joint 20th anniversaries of Essex homelessness charities - HARP in Southend and CHESS Homeless in Chelmsford. To read more, visit the Two Charities, 20 Years, 20 Stories Hub.


Featured Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Instagram icon
bottom of page