Preventing homelessness in Reading

CEO blog September

25 September 2019

Last week, myself and a number of staff and volunteers attended the Third Sector Awards as we had been shortlisted in two categories. I was really hoping the volunteering team would scoop the Volunteer Team of the Year award as they are so deserving and contribute so much to our charity. Our volunteers do everything – from working at our fundraising events and running our drop in service, to helping out in our HR team. We went home empty handed but to me they are an amazing group of people and I am immensely proud of them all.

It would be nice to think that our housing situation is improving but this month’s news stories confirms it continues to disintegrate before our eyes with more families living in appalling conditions and the number of empty houses increasing.  We need to change our housing model, build council houses, rent controls and an end to no fault evictions.

Joe was a van driver, dashing from place to place, always in a hurry. He lived with his parents and when they divorced, he suddenly found himself homeless. He slept in his van but it became too much, and he lost his job and ended up on the streets. When he came to Launchpad for help, we placed him in our supported housing but Joe struggled to adjust. He’d never budgeted for himself or done anything on his own – so we helped him slowly gain the skills he needed to live independently. Eventually, Joe rebuilt his life and made an application for a council flat. His application was successful and he recently moved in – and is looking to start work again as a van driver.

Sometimes ex-clients can slip back into difficult times – and we are here for them when they do. Launchpad helped Mary obtain housing association accommodation a while back when she was struggling to find a stable home. When Mary was walking through town recently, she bumped into Floating Support Officer Fay, who helped her get the flat – and when Fay asked how she is, Mary explained she was having trouble coping with her accommodation. Mary was struggling with her mental health, had started hoarding, and was having real difficulties keeping the flat neat and tidy. She said it was overwhelming and she didn’t know where to start to get the flat sorted. Fay asked to visit Mary at her home to see how she can help, but Mary was too ashamed. They met at the Launchpad office several times to chat about how Mary could get back on track, and eventually Mary asked Fay to visit her home. When Fay saw that the flat was in a terrible state, she suggested that she, Mary and a volunteer clean the place up. They spent the day cleaning and clearing the house. By the end of the day, Mary could see her floor carpet again! She now feels she is in control of her life again.

A few recommendations from me:

TV series of the month: Mindhunter

Mindhunter on Netflix is an incredible and sometimes horrifying fictional story of the development of the Behavioural Science Unit at the FBI.

Books  of the month: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

A terrifying magic story of an African American family in 1950s America. Which is more frightening, the racist American white police force or the forces of evil chasing them? Absolutely gripping story.