Launchpad clients three times more likely to have a diagnosed mental health condition

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Launchpad is raising awareness of the links between mental health and homelessness by revealing 68% of the charity’s clients have a diagnosed mental health condition – almost three times more than the number of adults from the general population who experience a diagnosable mental health problem in any given year (25%)*.

Of those surveyed by Launchpad in October 2018**, over 60% of clients who reported having a mental health condition received medication, a third (31%) have been referred for treatment beyond GP level, and anxiety and/or depression is by far the most common condition (88%).

Ian Caren, Chief Executive of Launchpad, explains the relationship between homelessness and mental health, and what Launchpad does to tackle the problem:

“Our latest research demonstrates that mental health conditions among those who are homeless or at risk of losing their home in Reading are a very real problem. A huge number of our clients have conditions such as anxiety, depression, psychosis, PTSD and personality disorder – which, compared with the national average mental health statistics, is particularly concerning.

“Poor mental health can be both a cause and a consequence of homelessness. Many people can lose their home because a serious mental health condition leaves them unable to manage a mortgage or tenancy, and being homeless or at risk of becoming homeless can be so traumatic it can trigger a mental health problem. There are often the added complexities of addiction and substance misuse, which many of our clients battle.

“It is vital that people in a housing crisis who are experiencing mental health problems receive appropriate support for their conditions – so they are able to recover, sustain a long-term home, and live full and independent lives. At Launchpad we offer therapeutic activities to help our clients address their problems, develop coping strategies and build self-esteem, which include counselling and art therapy. We also work in partnership with agencies across Reading, such as community mental health teams, to ensure clients have access to targeted and intensive treatment and support.”

Launchpad is Reading’s leading homelessness prevention charity, providing vital information and support for individuals, couples and families who don’t have stable place to live or are at risk of losing their home. Our holistic service aims to break the cycle of homelessness by providing temporary homes with bespoke support for up to 100 people in Reading and rebuilding lives to give clients the very best chance of success with a range of therapeutic activities, and support with education, training and employment.

With your support and generosity, we helped over 1,000 people in Reading to get back on their feet last year, a figure which more than tripled in just five years.

 * https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/adults/

**Research conducted in October 2018 by Launchpad had a sample size of 114 adults from supported housing and floating support services at the charity.

First residents move into Launchpad’s new long-term homes

Launchpad opened five brand new flats in Reading earlier this year – and we’re absolutely delighted to say our first three residents have recently moved in!

Rob*, who is in his 40’s, is the first new tenant at the flats and moved in last month. He had been living in our supported housing and working with Launchpad’s team to get back on his feet – which included lots of courses to give himself the best chance of success in job interviews. Rob is a real homemaker and kept his Launchpad supported accommodation immaculate, and he’s thrilled he has somewhere he can call his forever home. He says it has given him a new lease of life and a fresh start.

Chris* and Scott* are the second and third tenants at the new single-occupancy flats and they moved in to their respective homes earlier this month. Chris is in his late 20’s and was in need of a long-term home after living in temporary accommodation. Scott is 50 and has been rough sleeping or living in campsites since 2005. He has returned to Reading because his adult daughter lives in the town and he wants to be more involved in her life and that of his granddaughter’s.

Launchpad purchased and built the flats to provide long-term, affordable and sustainable housing – and funding was raised by major donors, donations from trusts and members of the Reading community. Haslams Estate Agent held a gala ball in 2017, raising a magnificent £100,000, while one couple, who wishes to remain anonymous, donated a staggering £125,000.

Each flat is part furnished and consists of a bedroom, bathroom, open plan sitting room, kitchen and dining area, as well as solar panels and triple glazing. The long-term homes are for Launchpad clients who are now able to live independently and without our specialist help, and those in housing need.

*Client’s name has been changed to protect their identity

New project offers life-changing financial management skills

Launchpad has launched Financial Skills for Independence – a new programme to arm clients with life-changing financial management skills, thanks to grants from Nationwide and NatWest.

Financial Skills for Independence is for clients who are due to leave the service after a period of support and would benefit from learning how to avoid financial difficulties, sustain a tenancy and remain independent. When it comes to dealing with finances, for example, it may be best to become familiar with what is a secured credit card, how to build a credit score or even how to manage finances better. There is so much to learn when it comes to money management. Thinking about this allows people to plan in advance in terms of their finances and hopefully not find themselves in a situation where it is a struggle.

The programme, which we began rolling out in March, consists of four hours of workshops a week, held over eight weeks, and covers topics such as debt management, budgeting and claiming benefits.

Aimee Rahman, Launchpad’s Housing Team Leader, is heading up the Financial Skills for Independence programme and explains why the project is so important: “The majority of our clients come to Launchpad because they have nowhere else to turn to for support. We work with them to address the issues that are having an impact on their housing situation and get them back on track. But once our clients leave Launchpad, we’re finding they can have difficulties understanding and managing finances, which leaves them at risk.

“For example, most of our clients don’t know how to set up council tax, prioritise their debts or which benefits they’re entitled to. Our new project will teach them to do all of this and also help them to access education and employment, manage work and study at the same time, and understand their rights as a tenant. Launchpad is a community, and this project allows our former clients to come back for additional support in an environment they are familiar with, so they don’t feel like they are on their own.”

The project has been funded by grants from Nationwide Community Grants and NatWest’s Skills & Opportunities Fund, following a competition which asked the public to vote on a project they believed to be the most beneficial for the community.

The first workshops, which took place throughout March and April, focused on helping clients to understand Universal Credit, make changes to their Universal Credit journals and manage their claims. The programme is available to all Launchpad clients from our supported housing and floating support services, and will be made available to drop-in clients in the near future.

Big Sleep Out at Reading Abbey Ruins

We are thrilled to announce that booking has now officially opened for this year’s Big Sleep Out, which is taking place on World Homeless Day, Thursday 10 October, and in a brand new location – the iconic and historic Reading Abbey Ruins!

We’d love you to join us and brave the outdoors for the night so people facing homelessness in Reading don’t have to. It will be an event to remember with entertainment, yummy food and some very special guests, and we’ll be announcing more exciting plans over the coming months.

Swapping your bed for a sleeping bag and cardboard box for the night at the Big Sleep Out doesn’t aim to replicate homelessness but it does offer a brief insight into some of the things you might face if you’re sleeping rough – such as cold temperatures, an uncomfortable bed and limited sleep. And every penny you raise will help us continue to prevent homelessness in Reading.

Ian Caren, Chief Executive of Launchpad, said about the event, “Big Sleep Out is one of the biggest fundraising events in Launchpad’s calendar and it’s set to get even bigger. Reading Abbey Ruins is an iconic landmark for the town and will make a brilliant new location for hundreds of people to sleep out, mark World Homeless Day and raise vital funds for the charity.

“No one should have to endure sleeping on the streets, which is why Launchpad helps vulnerable people in Reading tackle their housing-related problems, obtain and sustain a long-term home and lead full and independent lives. It’s with events like Big Sleep Out and the generosity of our supporters that we are able to continue our work to prevent homelessness.”

Don’t delay – there are limited spaces and early bird tickets are only available until the end of May. Find out more about the Big Sleep Out or book your place today!

If you have any questions about Launchpad’s services or the Big Sleep Out email us at fundraising@launchpadreading.org.uk or call us on 0118 929 1121.