Preventing homelessness in Reading

CEO blog April

10 April 2019

One of the worrying aspects of our work at Launchpad is the increasing age of those who come to us for help.

This month there is good news for one of our clients who, at age 60, we have helped move into a one bedroom flat with a garden. He is absolutely thrilled  and is out there planting flowers.

Yet another older client, Michael, has the chronic memory disorder Korsakoff syndrome – and has recently been re-categorised by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as fit for work, and placed on Universal Credit.

The Alzheimer’s Society describes the symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome as: “…causing problems learning new information, inability to remember recent events and long-term memory gaps. Memory difficulties may be strikingly severe while other thinking and social skills are relatively unaffected. For example, individuals may seem able to carry on a coherent conversation but moments later are unable to recall that the conversation took place or with whom they spoke. Those with Korsakoff syndrome may ‘confabulate’, or make up, information they can’t remember. They are not ‘lying’ but may actually believe their invented explanations.”

Michael now has to complete weekly updates and describe his attempts to find work on an online platform in order to receive his Universal Credit. This is a man who has never used a computer and has severe memory problems. It beggars belief that the DWP can describe him as fit for work. Launchpad will support Michael in his appeal and help him cope with a world he cannot remember.

The challenges our clients face are innumerable. Sarah discovered she was behind with her rent and couldn’t understand why it hadn’t been paid. Launchpad uncovered that she was disqualified from holding a bank account and her housing benefit therefore hadn’t been paid to her. We then negotiated with the housing benefit department for her rent to be paid directly to her landlord and are now working to  find out why she is banned from having a bank account!

A few recommendations from me:

Film of the month: Son of Saul

An utterly terrifying film about Auschwitz in 1944 in which you see the death camp through the eyes of one of its inmates. In a world of madness and horror, one inmate tries to bury his son. It is a challenging film but one that is worth watching so we remember the past. There are too many people who deny the Holocaust.

TV series of the month: The Looming Towers

A ten part drama series looking at the build up to 9/11.  Jeff Daniels plays a hard drinking FBI chief trying to stop Al-Qaeda, whilst at the same time fighting a bureaucratic game with the CIA.

Book  of the month: Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001–2016 by Steve Coll

Fantastic account of America`s secret war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.