When times got tough for John, his passion for art got lost along with his home and his life as he knew it.

John, who did not want his surname published, spent ten years sleeping in his van, on friends’ sofas and, if the money was good for a short period, renting a temporary room.

However, thanks to the support he has been receiving from Southend’s homeless charity Harp over the last year he is finally able to put his tough past behind him.

When John first arrived at Harp he was at breaking point, but now that he has a safe and secure roof over his head in one of their hostels and is on the road to recovery things are looking up.

Since being at Harp John has revisited his love for art through their meaningful activities programme.

John said: “With support from Harp I began painting again and it has really given me a focus. It’s still a battle to do the things I am supposed to do, sometimes I just get up and get straight to painting. It gives me something to get up for on the days I am really struggling.”

Being homeless can be traumatic, especially when, like John, it spans several years. Like all trauma it can take time to fully recover. Harp recognises this and provides a comprehensive array of activities to boost confidence and self-esteem, provide a therapeutic outlet, and find a positive way to manage stress and anxiety.

For John art has done just that.

He added: “Art helps to shift my tough thoughts to the back of my mind, it gives me time to think about things.”

He has now attended a variety of art courses at Southend Adult Community College to develop his skills.

It is the combination of practical and emotional support that provides people with the tools and skills so they can overcome homelessness for good.

John said: “Harp has been a lifeline.

“Without them I would have been on the streets.”