Launchpad shortlisted for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Community’ award

Launchpad has been shortlisted for the Thames Valley Business and Community Awards for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Community’.

12 other organisations are in the running for the award, with the finalist being selected at a prestigious award ceremony at The Hilton, Reading on Thursday 31 January 2019.

Launchpad was founded in 1979 by students from Reading University and started life as one of the town’s first soup kitchens. The charity has developed over the years and now houses 100 people and supports over 400 every year.

Ian Caren, Launchpad’s Chief Executive, said: “Our overarching aim is to ensure that everyone in Reading has their own home and the opportunity for a positive future. Some people come to us for advice on things such as benefits, rent, issues with landlords; others come to us in desperate situations.

“We house those that need it and provide tailored support programmes to help them with fundamental life skills, employment and ultimately into long-term accommodation. We believe life skills combined with a safe, clean home give people the very best chance of success.

“We are delighted to have been nominated for the ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Community’ award, and to be shortlisted is a huge acknowledgement for the work we do at Launchpad. Winning would be the icing on the cake.”

Launchpad employee Jason McMahon has also been shortlisted for the category ‘Lifetime of Achievement of the Year’. Jason had a successful career in commercial sales, but following redundancy, divorce and the death of his mother, his life took a different path. After struggling for work, he applied for a 6 month maternity cover role at Launchpad and four years later he is now a permanent, full-time member of staff.

Working as Launchpad’s Corporate Partnerships Manager, Jason visits businesses in and around Reading, speaking to over 5,000 people every year to educate, inspire and raise support to help people have a second chance in life.

Jason said: “Soon after starting at Launchpad and hearing some of our clients’ stories, I realised that we all can be so close to slipping into a sudden crisis; a change of circumstances, financial difficulties, family breakdowns, affording a place to live. It can so easily spiral out of control.

“Launchpad has given me the stability and purpose I needed to move forward and have a better quality of life. In return, I can hopefully change perceptions and raise awareness of homelessness.

“Being recognised for such a prestigious Thames Valley award as a local boy is an honour. I have met amazing people who are all connected through Launchpad. This nomination recognises everyone who has inspired me on my journey and everyone at Launchpad who have helped thousands of people in Reading get their lives back on track.”

Launchpad unveils new accommodation to help prevent homelessness in Reading

Launchpad has officially opened five brand new flats to provide long-term, affordable housing in the town.

The one-bed flats were opened by the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards and Councillor Rachel Eden during a ceremony on Tuesday 15 January 2019 and will be made available for people with a housing need.

Launchpad already provides temporary housing and support for 100 people in Reading, but this is the first time the charity has purchased land and built its own accommodation for people to rent on a long-term basis.

Ian Caren, Launchpad’s Chief Executive, said: “The main driver behind this move is the paucity of long-term, affordable housing in Reading. At Launchpad we help people who are at risk of becoming homeless, support them in getting back on their feet and ultimately move in to their own accommodation. But in Reading, there is such a short supply of suitable homes. These flats will give five people a chance to have their own home where they can feel safe and secure. A right everybody deserves.

“We have worked closely with local architect Chris Weston over the past year to design the flats to ensure they not only complement the local community but give the future residents a home to be proud of. We ourselves are immensely proud of what we have achieved and would never have done it without the support of the Reading community.”

Each flat is part furnished and consists of a bedroom, bathroom, open plan sitting room, kitchen and dining area. The flats have solar panels, triple glazing and are fitted with a smart energy system which will automatically turn the heating off if a window is opened. The flats also have WiFi, a bike shed and are situated in West Reading; a 15-minute walk from the town centre.

Funds to help build the flats were raised by major donors, donations from trusts and members of the Reading community. Haslams Estate Agent held a Charity Gala Ball last year raising a magnificent £100,000, while one couple, who wish to remain anonymous, donated a staggering £125,000.

Ian continued: “We feel so humbled by the generosity and devotion we see from our supporters every day. Without them, we would have nothing. From items such as a buggy donated recently which has made such a difference to a mother and her young child, to our fundraisers, donors and
volunteers, we are extremely grateful.

“This is our very first building project and we hope it to be the first of many. Over the next five years we will be looking for further viable opportunities to purchase land in order to build homes, particularly for families who are in desperate need of long-term accommodation.”