Our volunteers come from across Reading and are very much part of the fantastic support Launchpad gets from the town.
They get involved in all aspects of the organisation such as providing counselling, helping clients who use our drop-in service, running activity and hobby groups, supporting clients in our IT skills and CV writing workshops and helping with some of the office administration.
Our regular volunteers commit to supporting us for six months, which is a huge benefit for our clients who often have chaotic lives and come to depend on the same friendly face they are used to.
Other volunteers support us on a more ad hoc basis and get involved in helping at our fundraising events, such as marshalling at the Reading Half Marathon or looking after the registration desk at our Big Sleep Out event, and giving short talks about our work to local groups.
Every year our volunteers give us over 7,000 hours of their time, equivalent to 292 days of the year. 85% of these volunteer hours are directly related to client support.
It’s not just about doing good. Volunteering can help you develop new skills and boost your confidence. It gives you a chance to meet local people who you might never have met otherwise. And it’s immensely satisfying and highly rewarding.
Volunteering can even open up new career opportunities and broaden your mind – and it really makes you feel like a part of something.
Roger volunteers during periods of extreme cold weather, when Reading activates its Severe Weather Emergency Procedures (SWEP).
“I’m on the Friday evening shift, typically volunteering between 7.00-10.00pm. There are always 2 of us Launchpad volunteers there. My role is to welcome those people coming off the streets into the emergency accommodation, show them where they are sleeping, make them a warm drink and a cuppa soup and give them a towel and the toiletries they’ll need. And then to chat to them, make them feel really welcome.
“I’ve met such nice people. One guy is a qualified engineer who’s fallen on hard times; another is ex-military who lives in a tent just outside Reading. We have good, really interesting chats – these are intelligent people. Volunteering (I work there as well, in the finance team) at Launchpad makes me very humble. I think ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. These people are nice, you know; just like you and me.”
Our volunteers also include students from Reading University.
“Throughout my time on placement with Launchpad I have learnt so much about the issue of homelessness. I knew fairly little about the depth and scale of the problem before I started my placement here. For example I didn’t know what hidden homelessness was or even recognise that there was a difference between the homeless and those begging. Homelessness isn’t just one issue, people struggle with a huge variety of things and therefore require different types of support.
“Getting to know the clients and seeing them on a weekly basis is so rewarding, you see how far they’ve come whilst being with Launchpad. I also loved attending activity sessions because you can see how much they mean to the clients. The clients have taught me so much and made it easy to understand how people end up in situations where they need Launchpad’s help.”
Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about volunteering and student placements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0118 950 7656 and select option 4.
Are you at risk of being homeless, sleeping rough or worried about someone?