Reading charity teases carol singing at First Friday Club

Insights into what a charity is doing to tackle homelessness were given at a talk at Reading’s premier business networking event.

The First Friday Club meets at rotating venues in Reading on the first Friday of each month, as a networking forum for businesses, charities and community organisations.

Among attendees, were architects, business people, The Oracle general manager Andy Briggs, and a clinical hypnotherapist.

Each month, a talk is held by one of the attendees about the work they do.

This time round, Kirsty Wilson from the charity Launchpad gave a talk on the realities of homelessness.

She explained homelessness can affect anyone.

The charity website has case studies such as Bob, who became homeless at 57 after his marriage broke down.

READ MORE: Clash over targets to reduce rough sleeping in Reading

He was sleeping rough and ‘living off the land’ before Launchpad helped him find somewhere to call home.

Bob said: “When I first moved in, it felt weird because I hadn’t had a roof over my head for years – I didn’t sleep in my bed every night because I was so used to the hard ground.

“But I couldn’t believe it was mine. I bought some carpet and fitted it myself within a few hours, and the best part was the view from the window and having a proper shower.”

Another person Launchpad helped, called Hayley, became homeless at 33 after losing custody of her children.

Reading Chronicle: Kirsty Wilson from the charity Launchpad gives a talk at the First Friday Club Reading, held at the Pentahotel in November. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceKirsty Wilson from the charity Launchpad gives a talk at the First Friday Club Reading, held at the Pentahotel in November. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

She was helped into a shared house by a support worker called Amanda, and was eventually able to move somewhere longer term.

Hayley said: “Amanda helped me complete all the paperwork and make the bids for houses. It took so much weight off my shoulders because it’s a complicated process. And I was lucky enough to get a place.”

“I’ve lost so much over the years and I got this opportunity to start all over again – it’s fantastic. And my partner has helped me do the place up.”

Launchpad works in partnership with Reading Borough Council to assist those who are homeless, and possesses 104 homes and rooms across the town.

Clients typically stay with the charity for 6-12 months, but stays can be longer and they do take clients back if needed.

READ MORE: Reading council commits to helping homeless in shipping containers and vulnerable women

Kirsty used the talk to announce Launchpad’s annual ‘Carol by Candlelight’ fundraiser will take place at Reading Town Hall on Wednesday, December 14.

The event will be hosted by Reading X Factor contestant Danyl Johnson and Matt Allwright, known for presenting TV shows including Watchdog and Rogue Traders.

Last month, 30 volunteers braved the cold for the charity’s Big Sleep Out, which involves a night ‘sleeping rough’ in the Abbey Ruins.

Kirsty also made a call for people to sign up to the pancake day race on Thursday, February 21, 2023.

Terry Dixon, of Terry’s Reading Walkabouts praised Launchpad for the work they do, and expressed interest in teaming up with others to take part in the Pancake Race.

After the talk, there is an ‘open mic’ where attendees can make announcements.

Sue Biggs, a trustee of the Home Start Reading charity, took the opportunity to announce that volunteers will be singing carols at Reading Train Station from 5.30pm to 7pm on Thursday, December 22. Members of the public are welcome to join.

As the carol singing will take place in the station upper walkway, singers will require passes to enter the station.

If you would like to get involved, please email

Each First Friday Club is catered by the host venue. The event this month was held at Pentahotel. It is sponsored by LOCALiQ one of the UK’s fastest growing digital marketing agencies, The Reading Chronicle, Cream design and Greatest Hits Radio.

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