HARP Welcomes New Chief Executive And Bids Jackie Bliss a Fond Farewell

HARP Welcomes New Chief Executive And Bids Jackie Bliss a Fond Farewell

HARP, Southend’s leading homelessness charity, will soon say a fond farewell to Jackie Bliss after four years serving as Chief Executive, and welcome its new leader, Vanessa Hemmings, to continue the charity’s good work in the city.

Originally just a small group of volunteers, HARP was founded to help homeless people in Southend find shelter and support away from the streets. Over the years HARP has evolved to become a trusted local charity offering a wide array of services, including supported accommodation, and helping on average around 1,000 local people every year.

Whilst HARP’s main objective is to support local people to take steps towards leaving homelessness behind, under Jackie’s leadership HARP developed a people-centred, trauma informed method of working, and worked hard to successfully reduce the number of people turned away due to a lack of resources.

When reflecting on her time as HARP’s Chief Executive, Jackie said: “I have felt honoured to lead HARP as Chief Executive over the past four years. We have grown tremendously over this time, but most of all I am proud that levels of rough sleeping locally have reduced substantially, from Southend being the ninth worst place in the country in that respect to now being a city with one of the lowest levels of rough sleeping across the UK. As I retire, I am delighted to be able to welcome Vanessa to continue HARP’s excellent work.”

HARP’s new Chief Executive, Vanessa Hemmings brings a wealth of homelessness service experience to the role, most recently as Director of Services & Opportunities at Single Homeless Project in London.

Vanessa is excited about her new role with HARP, and is very much looking forward to leading the charity into its next exciting phase.  Vanessa said: “HARP’s development over the last few years has been amazing and I am very much looking forward to playing my part in enabling the organisation and the model to continue to grow, and help the charity reach its ambition not to turn anyone who needs our support away.”

Jamie Langstone
JLangstone@savs-southend.co.uk