CEO blog August

This month Ian talks about Ben - who turned his life around during lockdown - and recommends a documentary about Iraq, and a book set in America in the 1950s.

At Launchpad our aim is to help people rebuild their lives when things go awry. In May, 35-year-old Ben was wandering the streets of Reading with no home to go to. It was during the pandemic and he found it difficult to access anywhere to stay. He came to Launchpad and knocked on our door, and because we were still running our services throughout the lockdown, we secured some emergency accommodation for him that day – all while socially distancing to keep our staff and Ben safe. Our teams then worked with Ben to get him a more stable home and six weeks later he moved into a shared house in Tilehurst. He was so happy. Ben desperately wanted to get back into employment so he used our IT suite to email application forms out. Two weeks ago he started his new job in a warehouse. In just three months, Ben has gone from being homeless to having accommodation, a job and a future.  People don’t want the world, they just need the opportunity to develop and grow.

Dominic grew up in care and his chaotic upbringing saw him spiral into a world of drug and alcohol misuse. Children in care are more likely to go to prison than higher education and sadly, Dominic followed that same path – and ended up on the streets after he was released. Over two years ago, local agencies supported him into a hostel and he then moved into one of our bedsits, and was allocated a Launchpad support worker to get him back on his feet while he was in our accommodation. We supported him to address his substance misuse and he slowly started to build a relationship with his family. Two weeks ago he moved into his own housing association flat and his first guests were his family. What a transformation.

Last month, the Government released its annual English Housing Survey and revealed that 541,000 people are sofa surfing in England. That’s over half a million people. One of the few positives about the last few months has been the spotlight on the severity of homelessness in this country – we’re reading more and more about issues like this. What’s key is what we do going forward – we need to keep raising awareness of the huge homelessness problem in our country. And one thing is for sure – Launchpad will continue working with vulnerable people in Reading so they have a safe, clean and stable home.

A few recommendations from me:

TV series of the month: Once Upon a Time in Iraq

A brutal and brilliant five-part documentary on the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. It is at times appalling, as well as heart rending and emotional, to watch the citizens of Iraq and its occupiers discuss their perspective on the war.

Book of the month: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

This is also a Sky mini-series. It’s a wonderful depiction of America in the 1950s. A mixture of racism and magic. And what is the most dangerous? The local racist police or the magical monsters in the forest?

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