In celebration of the charity’s 40th birthday, Launchpad is asking for the local community to help raise £80,000 to open Reading’s first work and life skills centre – so vulnerable people can leave homelessness behind for good.

The homelessness prevention charity has acquired a unit in Cardiff Road, just ten minutes’ walk from Launchpad’s town centre offices, where people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home will be able to learn new skills, get back into work, socialise in a safe space and build confidence. It’s going to cost £80,000 to completely refurbish so it’s fit-for-purpose and the bespoke 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
  • a space for creative writing, art, photography and wellbeing activities, such as yoga and meditation.

Founded as a soup kitchen in November 1979 by the students at the University of Reading, Launchpad plans to open the work and life skills centre in honour of the charity’s recent 40th anniversary. The centre is set to welcome clients in Spring/Summer 2020 and the service will initially support up to 200 people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

But with no government funding to help renovate the centre, Launchpad is relying on the crucial support and generosity of local people and businesses to raise £80,000 for the refurbishment, so the charity can get the service off the ground and help local people in need.

Ian Caren, Launchpad’s CEO, said:

“We know that simply giving a vulnerable person a home is not going to break the cycle of homelessness. Our therapeutic activities and support with education, training and employment have successfully helped people rebuild their lives, and achieve long-term stability and independence. But we’re limited by our current facilities and we want to do more.

“With a dedicated work and life skills centre, we can offer hundreds of people in need the opportunity to turn their life around and in a variety of ways – from taking online courses and applying for jobs, to learning how to cook nutritious meals and receiving counselling to overcome whatever is holding them back. To truly prevent homelessness, we need to give vulnerable people the very best chance of success.

“For 40 years the fantastic people of Reading have supported Launchpad and we’ve gone from a soup kitchen to a holistic service which helps over 1,400 people a year – all because of their generosity. We are hoping that, in celebration of our 40th anniversary, our community can back us once more. We are asking local businesses, schools, colleges, universities, community groups and members of the public to give whatever they can – so together we can refurbish the centre, open its doors, and change the lives of local people.”

Launchpad client, Michael, aged 54, received support from the charity’s current training, education and employment service and said:

“I hadn’t worked for eight years and my confidence was really low, so Launchpad helped me get some volunteering experience, put together a CV and search for jobs online. I even did a touch typing course with them. When I got an interview for a caretaker they helped me prepare and I was offered the job! I’ve been working there for nine months now and I really enjoy it, and I’ve started to look for a second job as a cleaner. I wouldn’t be where I am now without Launchpad’s support.”

How can your donation make a difference?

  • £10 could help buy a set of utensils so clients in supported housing can learn to cook nutritious meals for themselves.
  • £35 could help to fund an online food hygiene course for a client who wants to get a job in catering.
  • £50 could help to buy a month’s worth of materials for art therapy so clients who struggle to communicate can express themselves.
  • £150 could help buy tools for the centre’s DIY workshop so clients can learn to maintain and take pride in their home.
  • £250 could fund an industrial washing machine for the centre so clients can practise self-care.

To donate to help fund the refurbishment of Reading’s first work and life skills or order a free fundraising pack, visit launchpadreading.org.uk/skillscentre.