Over the last fourteen years that I have worked at Launchpad, I have heard national charities and governments talk simplistically about the issues people who are homeless face – and how people’s lives can be radically changed in three months or six months. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.
Launchpad sometimes deals with the most damaged individuals, forever changed by things like physical or sexual abuse as a child and domestic violence. People in this situation often have no support network and may have dropped out of school, leaving them with no formal education. They are alone in world they are fearful of, and this sometimes leads to self-harm, mental health issues, and alcohol or drug misuse. In these situations, these individuals have huge mountains to climb – constantly doubting themselves; constantly thinking it easier to do nothing.
Our job is to work closely with these individuals and help them tackle their deep-rooted and complex issues – creating tailored support plans to help them conquer that mountain and break the cycle of homelessness. This often involves joint working with other agencies across Reading such as Change Grow Live and the Probation Service. We aim to work with our clients for a set period of time but sometimes it can take longer for them to achieve long-term stability and independence. It’s a very personal journey.
Paul was a rough sleeper with many complicated issues to tackle. We gave him a room in our supported accommodation, along with a support worker and a plan to get him back on his feet. He was in our accommodation for nearly two years and needed that time to work with our team to resolve his personal issues, gain confidence and become independent. This month, he’s moving on – into his own rented one bedroom flat, which he’ll manage himself. He climbed his individual mountain so he can thrive in the community – but there was no magic time period or quick fix.
The next time you see someone homeless, remember some of them are carrying a rucksack of hurt and anger on their backs. Everyday they wake up and face a choice – do they take the easy option of alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, or do they start to climb their personal mountain, knowing they have failed so many times before? With time, support and accommodation, they can climb their mountain.
A few recommendations from me:
Book of the month: The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
A beautiful fictional story of loss and finding happiness from this brilliant French author.
TV programme of the month: 89
This is the story of the Arsenal team of 1989 and how they won the league with a last minute goal against Liverpool (or the RS as they are known on Merseyside). A wonderful and sad documentary.
Boxset of the month: The West Wing
I’m on series 7 and unsure how my life will continue when I finish it.