Preventing Homelessness in Reading

Volunteers

Volunteers are vital to the work we do in Reading and play a key role in delivering support and services, making a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people.

If you’re interested in volunteering on Christmas Day and over the Christmas period please contact our friends at CIRDIC, the Salvation Army, or the YMCA:

CIRDIC

Telephone: 0118 9502 536

Email: enquiries@cirdic.org.uk

Salvation Army

Telephone: 0118 958 3019

YMCA

Telephone: 0118 957 5746

Email: info@ymcareading.org

Food, furniture, bedding and clothing donations

We work closely with lots of other charities in the town who are able to accept your kind donations of food, furniture, bedding and clothing. Please contact them directly if you can help. Find out more here >

Volunteering at Launchpad

We have over 130 volunteers and are full to brilliantly bursting! We trained over 30 volunteers in the early autumn ahead of the winter to directly support those who are homeless in the town. We’re overwhelmed with local support which is a fantastic endorsement of the Reading community we’re part of.

We have lots of enquiries about the best way to help, especially during the winter. Here are the vital ways you can help:

1. If you see someone sleeping rough please let StreetLink know. They can make sure the appropriate, co-ordinated local professional support is offered. There’s lots of local support organised already, including food available to those that are homeless in Reading.

2. Please think twice about giving money to people begging. They’re likely to have an addiction and need professional help from charities and organisations in the town which is readily available. Funding people’s addictions has a detrimental effect on their mental and physical health and also their safety. See step one above which really is the best way to help.

3. Donate to Launchpad. Maybe you could do this instead of sending Christmas cards or set up a monthly donation and help us prevent homelessness in the town all year round.

4. Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter and find out ways to help, support and prevent homelessness in Reading all year round. Also hear about our volunteering opportunities when we have them. Sign up to receive our monthly email newsletter here >

Christmas Day

We used to invite the people we help to a Christmas Day brunch. We received so much support from volunteers and numerous offers of help from people who wanted to give up their Christmas morning. But only a small number of clients would attend, in 2015 just eight clients came along and 15 volunteers.

Christmas and indeed Christmas Day can be a difficult day for a lot of people especially the people we support, it can be a reminder of what they haven’t got and if they are estranged from their families Christmas Day can be especially painful, often, like many they want to just hide away until it’s all over.

We had to change what we did at Christmas in terms of support for clients.

In 2016 we created a grotto for the people we help: the individuals, couples, single parents and families. The grotto was open for two weeks over the festive period. And with the help of local businesses and the community we provided presents and food. Clients could pop in when the time was right for them and collect a present for themselves to open when they wanted and pick up a voucher to buy food for Christmas Day. One client popped in and picked a present for his granddaughter so he had something to give her on Christmas day, another group of clients in their late teens popped in and one remarked ‘I thought I was going to have a really rubbish Christmas, but it’s going to be really good now’.

In 2016, 80 clients came in to the Launchpad Grotto and in 2017, 132 clients came in. We are hoping even more will come along this year.

Diane and Pam

There’s an opportunity for almost anyone at Launchpad: former teachers helping with numeracy and literacy to HR and IT experts and enthusiastic fundraisers. We currently have over 100 volunteers!

Last year our volunteers volunteered for 8,301 hours, equivalent to 224 weeks, that’s over four years of help in less than twelve months. 89.5% of those volunteer hours were directly related to client support.

Why?

We work directly with disadvantaged people in the town, providing accommodation and individual targeted support to help them get their lives back on track.

Volunteering can also help develop new skills and boost confidence. It gives you a chance to meet local people who you might never have met otherwise. And it’s incredibly satisfying and rewarding.

Volunteering can even open up new career opportunities and broaden your mind – and it really makes you feel like a part of something.

Regular volunteering

Sharon, our Volunteer Team Leader asks for a six month commitment from people who want to volunteer regularly, for example those that help with our Job Skills and IT skills workshop. Often our clients have chaotic lives and we may not see them for a couple of weeks when they are struggling, we want the same friendly volunteer to be here when they return.

Ad hoc volunteering

Ad hoc volunteer roles include micro volunteers who help us out at our fundraising events, for example marshalling at the Reading Half Marathon or looking after the registration desk at our Big Sleep Out event.

What’s it like volunteering at Launchpad?

Diane and Pam volunteer every week with our clients: sewing, knitting, crocheting and textiles.

Pam’s take on volunteering at Launchpad is “It’s a two way thing, the clients tell me all sorts of interesting things and I’m really fascinated because their world is different from mine, and they add a dimension by the fact they have been in different places and done different things.”

Diane likes volunteering because “On a practical level, it structures my week, because every day could be Sunday, but I know if it’s Monday or Tuesday it is my Launchpad days. Having been a teacher I’m used to lots of stimulation. Every day is different, it can make you laugh one day and want to cry the next… I love the interaction with people… I think when you retire you could sit back and do the gardening but this is very rewarding”

Read more from Diane and Pam here > 

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about volunteering in general by emailing volunteers@launchpadreading.org.uk or telephone 0118 950 7656 and select option 4.