Preventing Homelessness in Reading

Hidden homeless

Lots of homeless people exist out of sight, in B&Bs or on the floors or sofas of friends and family. Their situation is rarely recognised as homeless. They are the hidden homeless.

Sofa surfing

Sofa surfing is used to describe people who stay on a night-by-night basis with friends and family. They have no security and they are in a vulnerable position.

Is sleeping on a sofa really that bad? Not for the first night maybe, or the second or even for a week or two. But some people have moved between friends’ sofas for years and face the nightly stress of finding somewhere else to stay. There will probably be nights when they run out of options and end up sleeping rough, or travelling around on public transport all night to avoid sleeping on the streets.

Some people choose to stay with friends now and then but have a safe home to return to and a family that want them back. This is not the case for sofa surfers.

It’s hard to get and keep a job when you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping night after night and sofa surfers depend on other people’s schedules when sleeping in their living room.

Hidden homeless

B&B when you’re homeless

If you apply to the council to be classed as homeless, they may put you in bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation while they review your case.

It’s become more common for pregnant women and families with children to be placed in B&Bs. This is often due to a shortage of suitable flats or houses. You might get a private bedroom but you will probably have to share the bathroom. There are usually no cooking facilities, so you may have to rely on takeaway food. If there’s a kitchen, you probably have to share it. Bringing up young children in one room with only a microwave and fridge with no cooker, garden, or bath is a reality for many in Reading.

As we’re sure you can appreciate, these are challenging places to try to keep or get your life on track. Launchpad’s Floating Support service works with people in situations like this every day of the week. Last year we worked with more than 400 people.