Preventing homelessness in Reading

CEO blog December

19 December 2019

I try not to be downhearted. I have spent my life working with vulnerable groups but at times the very grimness of our country is daunting.

A member of of our support team went to see a client at their home this morning and gave the following account: “I’ve just visited one of my clients and I’ll be honest with you, it broke my heart. The client has been living in their flat on the 10th floor for six years. She has brought up two teenagers here, by herself. She’s working for a small wage doing a cleaning hob. She says she’s thinking of getting another job as the income from the first one isn’t enough.

“She has nothing – no wallpaper, no carpets, no bedding, no curtains, no washing machine and no gas central heating. Just little pull-cord electric heaters in the bathroom and living room.  Her home is literally just a shell. She’s entitled to some benefits because she has a significant learning disability and a physical disability (from birth) but no doubt we’ll have to appeal twice and wait a year to get this extra bit of income she needs from the Department of Work and Pensions.

“She says there’s no point in Christmas as she has nothing to enjoy and she can’t afford any presents. Despite this, she’s put up her tree but her lights from the pound shop have broken. There’s a small amount of hope in that she’s looking forward to the Christmas meal served at the local church and she will be coming to the Launchpad Christmas grotto. An eviction hangs over her head.”

We have to be better than this, we can surely aspire to all having a decent home. Launchpad are going to try very hard to keep her safe and sound.

On a legal note, Vnetta, Launchpad’s housing solicitor is out fighting the good fight with a local authority (not Reading). The local authority have decided that a single working mother with three children was intentionally homeless after she fell behind with two weeks rent. She was evicted by her private landlord with the iniquitous Section 21 – which is the notice your landlord gives you to start the process to end your assured short hold tenancy, without giving you a reason why they wish you to vacate. She went to the local authority as statutory homeless and they told her it was her fault! To make matters worse, they refused to accept that she had a right to review their decision. Vnetta is out battling for her tomorrow. If anyone can, Vnetta can!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who has supported Launchpad this year – whether you’ve volunteered, made a donation, like a post on Facebook or fundraised for us. Without you, we couldn’t continue our vital work to prevent homelessness in Reading. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

A few recommendations from me:

Book of the month: Green Book by Evelyn Waugh

I have watched the TV series many times and decided to read the book. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmain family and the world of privilege they inhabit in 1920’s England. A wonderful story.

Box set of the month: Unit One

From 2001, the series follows the lives and loves of a Danish police unit in the early 2000’s, a nice, easy watch with the occasional brutal murder. I enjoyed it so much I bought season two!