A MAN who found himself homeless and struggling with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions has turned his life around.

Mark Young was rough sleeping and sofa surfing across Southend for eight years before turning to charity HARP for help.

The 61-year-old has now moved into a new home, after staying with HARP for over a year and a half.

“Without help from HARP, I’d still be bouncing about, rough sleeping, sofa surfing and sleeping here, there and everywhere,” Mark said. “Life would be rough and getting rougher. I was getting really tired of it all.”

The charity supported Mark with his Universal Credit claim, arranged GP appointments and counselling sessions, and assisted him with paperwork and telephone calls, helping him get his life back on track.

“The best thing about the support at HARP is my keyworker, Ruth, having one-to-one support every week and knowing I could come to staff for any help,” Mark continued.

“It feels absolutely great to get my own place after so long. I was worried I would feel lonely after being in communal living but, I now realise what happiness is. I go out, have a walk, and come home to my own place. That is happiness!”

HARP continues to support Mark while he gets used to living independently, helping him with his post, bills, and budgeting.

Mark’s Keyworker, Ruth, said: “Mark is such an inspiration to the work I do for HARP. He makes my job so rewarding and worthwhile. It truly has been uplifting for me to see how he has transformed and turned his life around,” said Ruth. “The icing on the cake was when Mark’s son made contact. He now sees his family regularly. Seeing photos of Mark cuddling his grandchildren melts my heart.”

Mark added: “Having my forever home now feels like I’ve made a New Year’s resolution that has come true. I feel really hopeful, and I haven’t felt this hopeful about the future in forever."