£70,000 Donation Secures Day Centre

The future of a day centre for the homeless has been secured followed a £70,000 donation by six Leigh churches. Homeless Action Resource Project (Harp) runs the centre in Valkyrie Road, Westcliff, and the money means the charity is able to buy the building which houses it.

They are hoping to exchange contracts at the end of November.

Harp chief executive Gill Garwood explained: “This action will enable us to lay the very foundations of our vision for Harp over the coming years to benefit many, many of thousands of homeless people for many decades in the future.

“Our dream has been to be in a position to obtain ownership of the properties from where we offer our services. There is so much insecurity in renting as there could come a time when we may have to vacate a premises and be forced to relocate.

“The upheaval of such a massive exercise can be very damaging to not only the staff and volunteers, but even more so to such a fragile clientele who desperately need the security of knowing a service such as Harp will always be there for them.”

The cash boost came from fellow charity Serving the Homeless, which was set up in 1990 to raise funds for the homeless by members of five churches in Leigh: St Barnabas, St Margaret’s, Our Lady of Lourdes, Highlands Methodist and New Road Methodist, with a sixth church, St Clements, joining last year.

The charity originally raised funds to buy individual residences for homeless youngsters, buying 13 units in conjunction with Acorn Association.

But three years ago the committee decided to try to help more homeless people by raising cash for Harp.

John Cottrell from the charity said: “Three years ago the cost of housing spiralled in this area and Serving the Homeless decided that investing such large sums of money in one unit was not the best way of serving the homeless.”

A string of fundraising events from wine tasting to singalongs and quizzes ensued and the members raised the £70,000 needed to buy the building currently owned by the Baptist Union.

Mr Cottrell, of Leigh, said: “We are not a big committee and we hold about six fundraising events a year and I often wonder where the money comes from but it mounted up over the three years.”