HARP – Southend’s Homeless Charity, Running and Christmas Meals


As the nights now draw in and the the colder, darker and wetter weather kicks up another notch, it’s perhaps rather timely that the next Charity I wanted to add to the list on this site, and one that I had a leaflet to hand about, was HARP.

The Charity


HARP is an action-based charity that is located and works in the town where I live, Southend. It aims to help the local homeless by providing essential services and emergency housing and works with people on a long-term basis so that they can hopefully get off the streets and rebuild their lives. They have two charity shops, offer emergency services including a drop-in centre for advice, hot meals and washing facilities and also offer supported accommodation. When someone is feeling hungry, alone, vulnerable… when they have no home and no shelter… when they feel lost and have no hope… HARP is there to help.

From their website, the services they offer:

  1. Emergency Services at the Bradbury Centre: advice, support, a hot meal, help in finding emergency accommodation
  2. Acorn Housing – a supported housing scheme for single people;
  3. HARP Restart – supports ex-offenders who are receiving treatment for substance misuse with not just hostel accommodation but rehabilition programmes;
  4. Learning for Life – provides accommodation and life skills to support those who have difficulty maintaining a tenancy, including support for the long-term homeless who often have very complex needs.

They do amazing, and staggering, work. From their website, the following facts:

  • HARP provided 3,900 food parcels and night packs in 2013, and over 4,500 in 2014/2015;
  • HARP’s volunteers are crucial to keeping the charity afloat. We have approximately 60 volunteers across our sites including our charity retail shops in London Road and Hamlet Court Road (both in Westcliff), including kitchens which are all run by volunteers,
  • All food donated to HARP is used in food parcels, night packs and for meals at The Bradbury Centre, the emergency hostel and our other specialist hostel;

As with any charity, help from the general public is vital to their ongoing work. There are many ways to help, from donating money, donating goods, fundraising and volunteering by donating time.

The Running

And for those runners who visit here, please note that they also have a local annual run… Harp24! This is a 24 hour race for either relay teams or solo runners, of 4.2 mile cross-country loops , and which raises a lot of money for the charity… so the more entrants, the more money it generates to help the charity provide the above services within the Community. The first of these races was in 2012 and it has grown in size every year since… over 300 runners for 2015! I had the pleasure of participating last year as a solo runner, one of only two idiots who ran with a weighted pack… and what a fantastic party atmosphere it had… friendly competition, camping, friends, families, children playing… unfortunately it clashed with my 8in8 marathon challenge this year so I couldn’t go.

Fab race reports available online from a variety of clubs, including one from Flyers Southend which can be read here and one from Rochford Running Club which can be found here, you might even spot me in one of their 2014 photos!

So for those of you who fancy a challenge, why not keep an eye out for next year’s event… enter a team or go solo, run for fun or use it as training for an ultra or stage race… and for the seriously crazy (or normal, depending upon your perspective 😉 ), how about going for a 100+ mileage and becoming a centurion?

And so to the last part of this post’s title…

Christmas Meals!

It’s a little while off, but at the beginning of December, HARP will hopefully be kicking off their yearly Christmas Meals campaign/appeal again, which I participated in last year. I know that there are many appeals at this time of year, but imagine being on the streets with absolutely nothing, which is awful enough during any day… but at Christmas when homes light up with their decorations, trees and families gathering… when wherever you go, you hear about people’s plans for eating, drinking, having fun… belonging, being cared about, being loved, being wanted… what about those who don’t have food or a roof over their heads, those who don’t have any of this, have no-one? HARP aims to provide all who turn up a christmas meal at their Centre and these are funded entirely by donation. A donation doesn’t just provide a meal though… it also gives people access to the Charity’s full range of services which in turn can then ripple out to create new beginnings for them. So, for those who are interested, this is a heads up to please keep an eye out for when that appeal happens.

And lastly,  for those that would like to help this fantastic Charity in any of the ways listed above, please click here for their website and here for their Facebook page, where you can find further information on doing just that.

Wishing you all a wonderful Friday and week ahead 🙂


SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Week 2 #SLM13


Week 2 has now finished!!!

So what has this week encompassed?

***full-time working day x 4

***one day off, however no rest for the wicked as I’ve used that to catch up with college homework, coaching admin, personal admin and other stuff at home that has been put to one side for far too long

***CPD counselling workshop (daytime) x 1

***3 hour daily commute x 4

***counselling evening x 1

***supervision therapy evening x 1

***no college evening this week as such due to half term, however… yep you guessed it… spent that time actually doing college stuff!  The call from my very bereft and lonely tv was hard to resist… I caved on Saturday evening!

***evening admin work x 1

As for socialising… one party which started too late so I forfeited that, clash of plans which meant cancellation with another friend but managed to fit in an after work catch up with friends, a group get together for a few hours after training one evening and another friend dropping by, so have not turned into an absolute hermit yet.  I also got fed cake.  What’s not to love about that!

As for the actual physical work/training… achieved:

***lunchtime yoga session x 1

***lunchtime treadmill run x 1 (2.89 miles)

***PT session with Activate Plus PT x 1

***lunchtime outdoor run x 2 (3 miles each)

***2 hour karate session x 1

***weekend run x 1 (first 5 mile target hit!)

Total overall running: 14.36 miles / 140 minutes (2 hour 20 minutes)

And how did it feel?

All things considered, not too bad at all… and when I look at the distance and time over the course of the whole week, I’m rather pleased, which is saying something considering my perfectionist tendencies :).  It also helped today that I did my longest run of 50 minutes and had a karate colleague with me.  He helped me keep the pace up when I possibly would have lagged a bit more had I been on my own!  The biggest challenges at the moment are getting the breathing right, pushing through around minute 25, and then the last 5 minutes of each run.  I’m assuming the last 5 minute thing is what happens to most people when they start out running seriously and is more of a psychological aspect than physical.

Time now to get back to the college work… hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!


My fundraising page: MichellePayne13

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne

SL Marathon 2013 – Update – Week 1 #SLM13


My intention is to post a general update at the end of the week on Sundays.  Unfortunately Week 1 went by so quickly with not enough hours in the day, that I never got round to typing everything up in time.  Fingers crossed for this weekend.

So yes, training has indeed started and I’ve survived the first week.  So what has this week encompassed:

***full-time working day x 5

***3 hour daily commute x 5

***counselling evening x 1

***college evening x 1

***evening admin work x 1

***healthchecks x 1

and let’s not forget some socialising being chucked in there!  I definitely agree with the work hard/play hard ethos… after all, you have to have balance in life and fun, right?

As for the actual physical work/training… unfortunately due to health checks, one lunchtime session got missed which I was not happy about but you have to go with the flow on these things I guess. Anyway, I digress… training achieved:

***lunchtime yoga session x 1

***lunchtime personal training session session x 1 with Activate Plus PT (check them out on Twitter: @ActivatePlusPT, great guys and more information on them to follow in later posts )

***lunchtime outdoor run x 1 (3.80 miles)

***lunchtime treadmill run x 1 (2.89 miles)

***weekend cross-country run x 1 (4.40 miles – and dying!!!)

***and I almost forgot, an hour of karate: including kihon/kata and jiyu kumite.

Total overall running: 11.49 miles / 112.26 minutes (1 hour 52 minutes 26 seconds)

Not that bad for a first week I think… as for an actual training plan… personal training sessions, travel planning and other arrangements… more to come in later posts!

And how did it feel?  Considering I’m battling a few personal challenges at the moment which need to take into account the physical safety aspects of taking on this challenge, I think it felt pretty good overall, even if I did resemble more of a squished red tomato than a boiled one after the cross country/trail run on Sunday (thankfully my friend Charlotte was with me and encouraged me every painful step of the way).


My fundraising page: MichellePayne13

Street Child

Sierra Leone Marathon 2013

© 2013 Michelle Payne

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