INSPIRATIONAL Catherine Storey has told how she turned her life around from sleeping in her car to helping others as a devoted team member at Southend’s homeless charity.

Catherine struggled to overcome addiction problems and was sofa surfing before getting her life back on track.

Having secured a job at Harp in 2015, Catherine now works within the charity’s transitions team and has been listed as one of the sector’s top leaders, innovators and change makers by Inside Housing’s Women in Housing: Leaders 2020.

She is proud of how far she has come after a hugely testing and personally challenging period.

Catherine said: “My first experience of homelessness was sleeping in my car.

“This was followed by a period of sofa surfing as the weather got colder and it stopped being fun.

“The reality of not having a home began to sink in and that was frightening. I hated being dependent on other people letting me stay to have somewhere safe to sleep.

“I then moved in with an ex-partner, but without a tenancy in my own name and dependent on the relationship going well for somewhere safe to call home, technically I was still without my own home. This left me with the choice of an unhealthy relationship or homelessness. It took a long time to work this one out.”


Catherine is also pleased to have left her days of addiction behind.

She added: “I did get my own tenancy and home eventually, but as my addiction progressed and my health deteriorated I again found myself homeless. I had rent arrears and nowhere to go. It was the most lonely and isolated I think I have ever been.

“I can remember just how happy I was to get the tenancy and keys to my new home. This gave me the opportunity to start to make significant changes in my life.

“In April 2011 I went to my first community abstinence based recovery group. It took me a while but life started to change. I got my first day of total abstinence on November 29, 2013 and haven’t looked back since.”

Catherine enjoys helping others who are in a position she can relate to.

She revealed: “I feel very privileged to work for Harp.

“The team inspires me.

“They share my passion to provide a service which promotes everyone’s right to somewhere to call home.”