HARP, Southend’s homeless charity, have launched their Christmas appeal for 2021, as they hope to raise money to continue supporting local people affected by homelessness.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Charity rapidly adapted their services to ensure Covid safety, and supported a total of 852 local people who were homeless or at risk of losing their home in the year. One of those people was Andrew.
Andrew was a hard-working and successful businessman. His company turned over more than £1m for 17 consecutive years, employing over 200 people. Riding high, Andrew could not have predicted what would come next. After losing a major business contract, Andrew’s life began to spiral out of control, with a series of devastating blows in a short time.
”First, my mother had a stroke that left her paralysed. Then, my best friend and colleague committed suicide. My health began to deteriorate, and I had to spend a lot of time at the doctors with liver and heart problems. And then, my wife was diagnosed with cancer - I think that was the final straw.“
Andrew went to his caravan in Southend to take a break from it all and never went back to work again. The bills and debts came rolling in, until finally Andrew was forced to declare bankruptcy.
“You know when people say they just closed the door and walked out? Well, that’s exactly what I did.”
Luckily Andrew had many good friends and managed to sofa surf for a number of years. Eventually though, the good will ran out, and Andrew finally came to HARP.
“I was so scared to come to HARP - I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my Key Worker, Duncan, really helped me. I thought that people would be really judgmental, but everyone at HARP was so selfless and nice.”
Andrew has now settled in and found a passion for gardening. He has started growing herbs and spices that he uses in his kitchen.
He’s currently receiving treatment for depression and is working with Duncan to rebuild relationships affected by his previous decision making.
“If I hadn’t come to HARP, I would be dead.”
“I have now realised how important getting help for depression and mental illness really is. I am the happiest I have been for a really long time. It feels like I can start again. ”
HARP is encouraging local people to support their Christmas Appeal at www.harpsouthend.org.uk/xmas or by texting the word XMAS to 70450 to donate £10, texts cost £10 plus your standard network charge.