The beginning of this week saw the opening of Southend’s Winter Night Shelters.

Now in its eighth year of operation, the scheme provides homeless people with food, a bed and a variety of services and support to help get them off the streets for good.

For many of us, it’s always extremely hard to walk past a homeless person without doing something; usually just to give them a bit of small change and wish them well.

Unfortunately, these small acts of kindness from one stranger to another could be doing more harm than good.

You could be helping to fund a serious and dangerous addiction.

Instead, by making a donation via you can help a local charity to make a positive difference. You can choose from Southend HARP, Southend Treatment and Recovery Service (STARS), The Storehouse and Peabody.

From funding the Christmas night shelters, to helping the vulnerable engage with the relevant services they really need, your online donation will make a much more positive contribution than putting a few coins directly into a plastic cup.

As we enter a cold snap and face a long winter, it is also reassuring to know that HARP will be working with people using the night shelters service to create an action plan to help get them off the streets for good.

If you see someone over the age of 18 rough sleeping you can contact StreetLink via their online app or website –

The details you provide will be relayed to the local authorities and outreach services, which help them find the person you are concerned about and connect them to support.

Alternatively, you can also direct them to HARP’s Bradbury Day Centre at 103-107 York Road to register for a place at the night shelters and ongoing support.

It is important to remember that if you are worried about someone who is under 18, then you should call the police.

You can help by volunteering your time and skills by calling John Simmons the Shelter Coordinator, either on 07483825928 or by email

By Suzanne Gloyne, Southend BID