HARP: Catching people who slip through the cracks

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Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP) is the leading homelessness charity in Southend-on-Sea. It supports single people, who are often seen as a low priority for social housing. Find out more…

Social Problem

Homelessness is on the rise, and people can easily slip through the cracks if they’re not classed as having a ‘priority need’. Many of those who end up homeless are battling drug or alcohol dependency or mental health issues.


Homeless Action Resource Project (HARP) helps more than 1,000 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness every year. The charity is based in Southend-on-Sea. Along with a day centre offering hot food, showers, laundry facilities and advice, HARP has more than 250 bed spaces available. These range from emergency accommodation to supported housing.

The charity offers far more than just a safe home; the goal is to help people progress to independent living. An action plan is drawn up for each resident, which includes areas such as finances, mental & physical health, and drug & alcohol rehabilitation.


HARP used to lease most of its properties but wanted to move towards 60% ownership to give it greater control and stability. It built up a small portfolio of properties, and then approached Charity Bank about a loan to purchase 26 bedsits and four flats from the local housing association. HARP has since taken out another Charity Bank loan towards the cost of refurbishing the properties, and is in the process of buying an eight-bed property with a further loan.

“We wanted a social lender, who would see the bigger picture rather than just the bricks and mortar. Charity Bank were very positive, engaging and helpful. Our sector would be lost without this type of funding.”

Nicky Bowling, Director of Property Development at HARP


Most people stay with HARP for six to 18 months, before moving into social housing. As well as helping people to get on the property ladder, HARP supports them to return to education and training, learn how to budget and pay bills, access essential services such as a GP, and prepare for employment.

“Sometimes you just need someone to say ‘I believe in you’, to pat you on the shoulder when you do something positive and say ‘well done, keep going’. That’s what a lot of people need – just that bit of support. Without HARP, things would have gotten really bad, I would have fallen through the cracks and possibly wouldn't even be here anymore, I used the opportunity to turn things around and I'm now living a good life with a bright future.”

Jack, a former HARP resident

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,200 loans totalling over £450m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

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