THE head of a Colchester homeless charity has stepped down after six years supporting some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Vivienne Wiggins has left her role as chief executive of Beacon House Ministries and said she was extremely proud of her time at the helm of the organisation but knew it was the right time to leave.

She said: “The moment I got the job I said I would do it for seven years because then I could get a lot done. I have done six.

“The issues we are dealing with on a daily basis around substance abuse, mental health problems etc mean it is a highly emotional environment to be a part of.

“Sometimes when people tell their stories they leave a little bit of themselves with you.

“I knew if I stayed too long I could be broken hearted or burned out.”

During her time at the helm, Ms Wiggins has steered the charity into new upgraded premises in Crouch Street.

Earlier this year, Beacon House was also awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services - the most prestigious award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Ms Wiggins said: “Previously we were in an old building which was over five storeys which meant everyone was going up and down all the time.

“If you were a new person arriving it meant it could be difficult to get services.

“I always knew the building was not going to work and so we started looking and found Norfolk House.

“It has transformed our service and now everybody can see what things are on offer for them easily.”

Ms Wiggins will be moving to Dementia Adventure, a charity which helps people with the condition stay connected to the outdoors and their communities.

She said: “Once someone is homeless people make decisions about how they should be living their lives.

“The same is true of people with dementia.

“I have been privileged to work with people who everyone else has given up on but I have watched how they have grown and developed through our work.

“There are so many people who we have seen transformed and without Beacon House I am not sure where they would have ended up.”

Trustees and volunteers will take on extra responsibility until a new chief executive is found.