Mark’s Homelessness Success Story continues the Joint 20th Anniversary Celebration for Essex Homelessness Charities

Mark’s Homelessness Success Story continues the Joint 20th Anniversary Celebration for Essex Homelessness Charities

HARP, Southend’s homeless charity, and CHESS Homeless in Chelmsford, continue to celebrate their joint 20th Anniversaries, and today HARP publish their sixth story in the series.

Mark came to HARP after being homeless for eight years. He was squatting and sofa-surfing to avoid sleeping on the streets, and coping with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions. Mark is now celebrating one year in his own home, after staying with HARP for over a year and a half.

“Without help from HARP, I’d still be bouncing about, rough sleeping, sofa surfing and sleeping here, there and everywhere, life would be rough and getting rougher. I was getting really tired of it all.”

The HARP team supported Mark with his Universal Credit claim, arranged GP appointments and counselling sessions, and assisted him with paperwork and telephone calls. Mark’s keyworker also attended his appointments to help with his anxiety and to also act as an advocate for him so that he could get his point across.

“The best thing about the support at HARP is my keyworker, Ruth, having one-to-one support every week and knowing I could come to staff for any help. I liked the fact that when I closed my bedroom door, I had privacy, and the counselling HARP arranged really helped me.”

With HARP’s support, Mark has now moved into his own home. This is a big step for Mark, and although a challenging experience, Mark is determined to learn the skills to live alone.

“It feels absolutely great to get my own place after so long, I was worried I would feel lonely after being in communal living but, I now realise what happiness is. I go out, have a walk, and come home to my own place. That is happiness!”

HARP staff continue to support Mark while he gets used to living independently, helping him with his post, bills, making phone calls and assisting with budgeting. Mark knows that he can contact HARP for help whenever he needs it. Mark’s Keyworker, Ruth, couldn’t help but sing Mark’s praises.

“Mark moved into a South Essex Homes property where the tenancies start off unsecure. Providing all goes well, after a year you are given a secure tenancy. Mark has just been given his secure tenancy on his place and he is over the moon! Mark is such an inspiration to the work I do for HARP. He makes my job so rewarding and worthwhile. It truly has been uplifting for me to see how he has transformed and turned his life around, the icing on the cake was when Mark’s son made contact. He now sees his family regularly. Seeing photos of Mark cuddling his grandchildren melts my heart.”

Mark says his hope for the future is simply to have a fresh start and a happy life.

“Having my forever home now feels like I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that has come true. I feel really hopeful, and I haven’t felt this hopeful about the future in forever. I could be a poster boy for HARP. They have done so much for me. I’ve really turned my life around, and I will be forever grateful.” said Mark.

HARP and CHESS Homeless will publish 20 stories celebrating their successes starting on Tuesday 20th September. To follow the campaign, search HARP Southend and CHESS Homeless on social media, or head to www.harpsouthend.org.uk/20th-anniversary and www.chesshomeless.org/20stories20years to read the stories as they get published.

Jamie Langstone
JLangstone@savs-southend.co.uk