I grew up near Reading and started to support Launchpad when the charity was called the Reading Single Homeless Project. When I returned to the area some years ago I jumped at the opportunity to be a Trustee and help provide further support to the life-saving work that Launchpad does.
In my day job I run a medium sized, growing business, and while some of the challenges are different, I try to bring my experience of this to help guide Launchpad in the best way possible. As trustees we want to ensure we are listening to our clients and providing the very best service, that we are looking after and growing the capabilities of staff, and that our finances are in good order. It’s also important to think about how we need to adapt to meet the new challenges we face as a charity, particularly during a year like 2020.
It’s a bewildering time for us all. It goes without saying that when times are tough, it’s invariably the most vulnerable in society who suffer most and we’ve certainly seen that to be true with our clients. But what does the future hold for us and them?
In terms of ‘what’s next?’ it is fashionable to talk about the ‘new normal’. But I’m not so sure. History shows that we are apt to forget and move on rather quickly. However, what we know about homelessness is that the financial shock, loss of jobs in many cases, and mental health stresses are likely to cast a long shadow over many and lead to increased need in the Reading area, all during a time when the country’s finances are going to be stretched.
So, for Launchpad I think this maybe points to a couple of themes as we consider the future. We need to continue to innovate and expand the services we can provide to serve our community and people in need, and not just to tackle homelessness but prevent it. The work and life skills centre, which will be opening soon, is just one example of how we will be doing that. And we will need to be ever more cost effective across the charity and focus on fundraising, given that money is inevitably going to be tight after our events and supporter-led fundraising took a hit this year.
I hope 2021 is going to be a brighter year for us all and I’d like to wish you – our valued supporters – a very peaceful festive break.
A few recommendations from me:
TV series of the month: Us
Us, a story of a marriage breaking up. Funny, insightful about relationships, and strangely optimistic. Although I know relationship breakdown is often a trigger for homelessness, so perhaps this is a rose-tinted portrayal
Book of the month: The Bell by Iris Murdoch
An unread classic from my bookcase. I hope it doesn’t make me seem gloomy and negative about commitment, but this is also about failed relationships and misunderstandings. This time set in a religious community with a cast of people who struggle in society.