Launchpad tackles exploitation and ASB in south Reading

Launchpad is tackling an increase in anti-social behaviour (ASB) and exploitation in properties in south Reading by introducing a weekly housing support surgery at the South Reading Community Hub in Whitley.

Following a rise in closure orders* in the area since the pandemic, Thames Valley Police’s neighbourhood officer, PC Jonathan Bowness, discussed with us providing specialist housing information and support as an outreach service in Whitley. Together we decided Launchpad will work with tenants who are being affected by cuckooing** and other forms of exploitation, or are involved with public nuisance or disorder in or near their property.

Our surgery opened earlier this month and helps tenants address the issues that are putting their housing at risk, so ASB in the neighbourhood can be minimised and residents can remain housed. This support includes helping tenants access treatment for substance misuse, providing information about how to safely manage their front door and assisting with setting up Universal Credit to avoid rent arrears.

Tenants can access the surgery via a referral from their housing officer at Reading Borough Council, the police, a social worker or their housing association, and can find us at the hub in Northumberland Avenue every Thursday from 11am to 3pm.

The project has been assisted by a grant from the Community Fund, which is jointly managed by the Police Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable, and uses proceeds from the sale of items seized from criminals that cannot be returned to their rightful owners.

Nikki Uphill, Floating Support Specialist Officer at Launchpad, runs the surgery with a Launchpad volunteer and said:

“Launchpad’s drop-in – which is a support and information service for anyone with a housing issue – is open three days a week at our offices in the town centre but we know that not everyone is able to access it. Which is why we are so pleased to be offering specialist housing information and support as an outreach service – and doing what we can to make a real difference to the levels of ASB in this hard-to-reach community.

“In the two weeks we’ve been open, we have started to work with seven vulnerable tenants who didn’t know where to turn – and referred a number into Launchpad’s floating support service so they receive further help in tackling their housing issue with a dedicated support worker and a personalised support plan. We expect to support many more south Reading tenants at the surgery over the coming weeks and months.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Community Fund for their help, and Whitley Community Development Association, who kindly donated a room for us to use at the South Reading Community Hub. It’s great to be joint working with PC Jonathan Bowness, Reading Borough Council and local housing associations to overcome these issues – and prevent homelessness – in south Reading.”

If you have an issue with ASB in your local area or you are being exploited in any way, please speak to your local housing officer or contact Launchpad by calling 0118 929 1111 or email support@launchpadreading.org.uk

*Closure orders are issued by a local authority or the police and prohibit access to a property by anyone other than those named in the order, because the use of the premises has led to anti-social behaviour.

**Cuckooing is when drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for county lines drug trafficking.

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