Preventing homelessness in Reading

CEO blog October

What does homelessness look like? A couple of weeks ago Fiona, a 39-year-old woman, came to our drop-in service. She was extremely nervous and dishevelled. Fiona told staff that she had been living with an elderly relative, who had asked her to leave. With nowhere to stay, she went to her local authority to ask for help but was told there was nothing they could do. Fiona spent that night sleeping in a bus shelter.

When our team sat down with Fiona shortly after she arrived, they identified she has a number of disabilities and should therefore be classed as statutory homeless – and the local authority must house her. But it was 4.30pm, so there wasn’t enough time to complete a homeless application and secure temporary accommodation, so we made some calls and booked her into a local hotel so she had a bed for the night. When our staff returned to the drop-in area to tell Fiona there was somewhere safe for her to stay, she had left. We looked for her but couldn’t find her.

Thankfully the next day Fiona came back to see us. We gave her a hot drink and some food, and we were able to make an urgent homeless application on her behalf to the local authority. After our solicitor put Fiona’s case across, they accepted their responsibility and housed her that night in temporary accommodation, and will be looking at Fiona’s long-term housing options. Before we said goodbye to Fiona, we gave her food vouchers and a bus pass for the week so she could travel to her accommodation and eat a decent meal.

Homelessness can also look like Jonah. He is a 59-year-old man who had been living in a tent for four months. He was in a desperate situation and came to Launchpad’s drop-in service for help. We saw him at 11.00am and moved him into our supported accommodation at 4.00pm the same day. From there our team will put together a personalised support plan for him for the six to twelve months he’ll be with us, and work with him to get his life back on track.

A few recommendations from me:

Film of the month: Green Book

Award winning film set in 1962 about of a tour of the deep south of America by African American classical and jazz pianist, and his Italian American bouncer driver. Lovely film.

Book of the month: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

A wondrous tale of daemons, alethiometers, the evil Magisterium, friendly witches and foul night-ghasts. Great fun!