A LEIGH charity that has raised thousands for the homeless across Southend is winding down after 33 years.

Serving the Homeless was founded in 1990 in response to the growing number of young people finding themselves homeless and was made up of representatives of the congregations of five churches.

Now, one of the founding members has said it is time to “hand over the responsibility to younger generations” after raising in the region of £450,000 for organisations, including Harp and the YMCA.

It marked the occasion by placing a rondel - a circular piece of steel used as part of an armour harness - at Bluebird, Harp’s 56-bed housing development in Southchurch Avenue, which the group contributed towards.

Echo: Symbol - Serving the Homeless rondel at Harp's Bluebird housing developmentSymbol - Serving the Homeless rondel at Harp's Bluebird housing development (Image: Harp)

Jo Ronan, one of the founder members of Serving the Homeless said: “We set up Serving the Homeless in 1990 because we saw a dire situation of homelessness in the area.

"I remember going to a public meeting about the issue when someone pointed out that we’re all just a few pay packets away from homelessness.

“Most of us have family or networks around us to support us but some don’t.

“These are the people Harp and other charities support.

“After all these years, the committee are no spring chickens so it’s time for us to hand over the responsibility to younger generations, and we’re confident that Harp is in a great place to continue to grow and provide more housing as needed by those experiencing homelessness.

“We’re so proud of what we have achieved as a group. This has only been possible with the help of our congregations and the community.”

Collectively over the years Serving the Homeless has contributed towards some 13 properties which are now managed by Harp, as well as a whole range of other activities.

Vanessa Hemmings, CEO of Harp, said: “We’re so grateful to all of the support we have received from Serving the Homeless over the years.

“Their support has been fundamental to Harp’s success as they were revolutionary in their thinking around breaking the cycle of homelessness by investing in homes rather than simply in short-term interventions.

"The support of Serving the Homeless has literally saved lives over the last 30 years.”