Preventing homelessness in Reading

CEO blog August

15 August 2019

Sometimes I talk to my elderly relatives who are in their eighties and nineties about housing. They talk about the terrible days after the war and the 1950s, when there was a shortage of housing and many people lived in other’s front rooms. There wasn’t decent housing, just landlords charging money for poor accommodation. It’s a picture that sounds so familiar today. I recently heard a story about a man in his late twenties, who is in employment and had just been given 48 hours to leave his accommodation. He was lodging so had no legal rights, and is still waiting for the return of his £850 deposit – which was promised would take two weeks. The inequity of our housing system lives on.

The problem of our ageing population seems to have passed people by – it’s fine to live in rented accommodation when you are working, but what happens when you retire? One of our clients, Gabriel, is in his mid-sixties and had always worked as a builder. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with cancer and lost his employment – which left him desperately surviving on his savings. He lives alone and was down to his last few pounds when he was walking through the Oracle, and noticed an advert about Launchpad’s drop-in service. He came to see us and we helped Gabriel sort out his benefits so he can keep his accommodation. He’s even got involved in our rebuilding lives services – which offer support through counselling, art and gardening, amongst many other things. And he’s just become a Launchpad volunteer!

Greg had been sleeping on the streets before he came to live in Launchpad’s supported housing. Whilst in our accommodation he managed to get a job but was still struggling with his problematic alcohol intake. Launchpad’s support staff worked with Greg to get him on a substance misuse programme, which he joined and slowly managed to get his alcohol misuse under control – and keep his job as a result.  He is now moving into a one-bedroom flat of his own, and plans to volunteer for Launchpad.

A few recommendations from me:

TV series of the month: Charité at War

The series is a fictional tale of a Berlin hospital from 1943 to 1945 and demonstrates the hatefulness of the Nazi regime – including the execution of soldiers suffering from PTSD,  the persecution of gay people and the overpowering hatred of those who don’t agree with the fascist ideology. It’s an interesting look at one of the darkest periods of history.

Books  of the month: Agents of Empire by Noel Malcolm

This is a wonderful story about an Albanian family during the 16th century – a time of spies, piracy, religion and the war for the Mediterranean. A really exciting historical tale.