Southend’s homelessness charity HARP launches Christmas appeal

HARP, Southend’s leading homeless charity, has launched its urgent Christmas Appeal for 2022, hoping to raise money to continue supporting local people affected by homelessness.

HARP helps around 1,000 people who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless every year in Southend. The charity aims to provide the support and accommodation necessary to help local people overcome homelessness for good.

One of those people was Kim.

Kim had been rough sleeping for about five years after losing her house due to excessive drinking, trying her best to cope with past trauma and block out the world around her.

“It was horrible, especially being on the street and out in the weather, not knowing where you are and going from night to night. I was always worried about safety because of the way I drank. Sometimes I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on and that was really scary but that was all I knew.”

Despite engaging in HARP’s services and accessing the support at the Bradbury Day Centre, Kim initially struggled with her drinking and found it hard to trust other people. In 2020 Kim met her key worker Katie, and moved to one of HARP’s properties.

Kim vividly remembers how she felt when she was first offered accommodation: “It was a huge weight lifted! It gave me that safe place.”

During her time at HARP Kim recalls what her Christmas days were like.

“I spent four or five Christmases at HARP. They would always put on a good Christmas Day for the people that didn’t have any family or anywhere to go, dress the rooms up and do us a nice dinner.”

After some extremely hard work and some emotional highs and lows, Kim worked with Katie and engaged with HARP’s partner agencies, eventually going to rehab in February 2022.

“The turning point was a car accident I was in last year. My son turned around to me and said, ‘I nearly didn’t have a mum’ and that absolutely broke me. That’s when I realised how bad I was actually getting and that I needed to change.”

With support from HARP, Kim has turned her life around. She is now eight months sober and has relocated to a totally new area where she is completing a college course in Health and Social Care. Kim wants to use her experiences to help others and even volunteers at a local food bank. Kim is also still in regular contact with her key worker Katie.

“She’s been a massive help just putting up with me! I’ve got some good friends that I made through HARP, some that I still speak to. Sometimes it’s nice to talk to people going through the same thing as you.”

“HARP always gave me a chance, they always took me back, never turned me away – they saw something in me.”

HARP is encouraging local people to support their urgent Christmas Appeal at https://www.harpsouthend.org.uk/christmas-appeal-2022 or by texting the word SAFE to 70460 to donate £10, texts cost £10 plus one standard rate message.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk