I’m not sure how to start this month’s blog – other than by saying that since I last wrote, I wouldn’t have predicted we’d be where we are just 30 days later. But, despite the current circumstances, at Launchpad we are really pulling out all the stops to do absolutely everything we can for those in need in Reading. And we want it to continue that way.
Our staff are key workers and they are still in Launchpad’s offices. But instead of meeting face-to-face with clients, we are providing emotional and practical support over the phone every day – as well as collecting and delivering food, cleaning and toiletry parcels; checking people have the treatment and medication they require; and helping with things like benefit claims.
People who are homeless are still being moved into our supported housing so they have a safe and clean home – and we are making sure the practicalities of signing them up and moving them in is done in the safest way for both the clients and our staff. Last Friday, we moved a gentleman into one of our flats after he lived on the streets and on boats for many years. When the support worker handed him the keys and said, “Welcome to your little home!”, he replied, “Little! This isn’t little!” He will have a dedicated support worker over the next 6 – 12 months to help him tackle the issues that are holding him back so he is able to live a full and independent life.
Launchpad’s fantastic solicitor, Vnetta, is also continuing her vital work during the pandemic. This week she stopped an illegal eviction by one of Reading’s slum landlords. It’s horrific that even in the most difficult of times, there are always some people who think of nothing but themselves.
But we do know there are many more kind and generous people out there than bad people. What is great about Reading, and at times truly staggering, is the kindness of strangers – of the Reading people and organisations – who have donated everything from homemade PPE for our staff to funds towards our emergency appeal. I wrote about community in the Reading Chronicle this week as working together is so important at times like this.
As you can imagine, Launchpad desperately needs our community – now more than ever. We’ve seen an extreme downturn in our income since the outbreak – fundraising events such as the Reading Half Marathon continue to get cancelled; our corporate partners, and the schools and community groups that support us, are having to stay home and are no longer able to continue their activities to raise funds; and many people are tightening their belts during the outbreak so our one-off and regular donations have taken a hit.
We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, but we are a lifeline to many and are pulling out all the stops to help extremely vulnerable individuals, couples and families in Reading. But we can’t do it without your help – which is why we launched our COVID-19 emergency appeal. It is easy to feel powerless and frustrated during the lockdown but you really can make a huge difference to our work with a donation, whatever the amount. Or simply sharing our work and appeal on social media will help us. Make a donation or visit our Facebook page to share.
Finally I hope you, your family and friends stay safe – and thank you for your incredible ongoing support.
A few TV recommendations from me:
A wonderful series about a detective who is investigating the murder of his colleague – and his subsequent angst and guilt.
The story of two boys growing up in Corleone. It’s a fantastic story which covers the murders of the two Italian anti-mafia judges, Falcone and Borsellino, and the eventually capture of Capo di Capi Toto Reina.