Homelessness prevention charity to open Reading’s first work and life skills centre
Berkshire’s leading homelessness prevention charity, Launchpad, has announced exciting plans to open Reading’s first work and life skills centre to help rebuild the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

The new venture will see Launchpad expand the vital services it provides to help clients into work, education and training, and give people the very best chance of living full and independent lives. Currently, in negotiations for a unit, Launchpad will be acquiring a 5,000 square foot facility a short walk from Reading town centre, which is likely to undergo complete refurbishment to be fit-for-purpose before welcoming clients in spring 2020.

Clients from Launchpad’s floating support, supported housing and drop-in services will use the centre to learn new skills, get back into work, build confidence and socialise in a safe space. Facilities will include a training kitchen for cooking and barista courses; a DIY workshop and laundry area to learn how to maintain a home and practise self-care; an IT suite for job searching and online learning; a counselling service for talking therapies; and a space for creative writing, art, photography and wellbeing activities such as yoga and meditation.

Architect’s impression of Launchpad’s work and life skills training centre

It is estimated the facility will cost £150,000 to open and £250,000 a year to run, and will initially support up to 200 people in Reading who don’t have a stable place to live or are facing homelessness. Launchpad will be calling on people and organisations across the town to support the desperately needed initiative and help fund the expansion of the service and will be launching a fundraising campaign as part of its 40th anniversary later this year. The charity will also be choosing a name for the centre in the coming months.

Ian Caren, Chief Executive of Launchpad, said:

“It takes more than just a home to break the cycle of homelessness – which is why Launchpad’s dedicated work and life skills centre will be a lifeline for people who are in need in Reading. By developing skills like DIY and cooking, getting support to apply for jobs and gain employment, and building self-esteem through counselling and self-care, our clients will give themselves the very best chance of leaving homelessness behind for good.

“We know that the work Launchpad is doing every day – rebuilding people’s lives with therapeutic activities and education, training and employment support – is a model that works. We’re already successfully helping people move out of homelessness into permanent homes, get a job, and lead full and independent lives – but we want to do more! There are many more people needing this type of support.

“Later this year Launchpad will be celebrating its 40th anniversary; everything we’ve achieved to date, every person we’ve helped, every life we’ve benefitted is because of the amazing support we’ve received from the people of Reading. We hope the town will back us once again and get behind this exciting and much-needed new project.”

Launchpad is Reading’s leading homelessness prevention charity, providing vital information and support for individuals, couples and families who don’t have a stable place to live or are at risk of losing their home. The charity’s service works in three ways – preventing homelessness, providing homes and rebuilding lives – and the organisation helped over 1,400 people in Reading to get back on their feet in 2018, a figure which has doubled in just four years. For more information about Launchpad, or to donate, visit: launchpadreading.org.uk