Helping homelessness charity, Launchpad, move into a new digital era

Tech delivery specialist, AND Digital, has partnered with Launchpad, a non-profit organisation that aims to prevent homelessness in Reading, to offer free technical support on the charity’s new website.

AND Digital opened its Reading office, known as a ‘club’, in the second half of 2019. Since then, it has been an active supporter of the wider digital community in Reading and the Thames Valley region. 

True to this local focus, the AND team explored new opportunities to offer pro bono digital development and support to local charities: it was Launchpad’s vision and commitment to improving the lives of the homeless, and those at risk of homelessness in the local area, that resonated strongly with the local team.

The charity’s previous site had not been refreshed since 2011, and had become increasingly difficult to manage in-house. This caused a real blocker for the Launchpad team, limiting its ability to share and communicate information about it’s essential services, without the help of costly developers.

To fix the problem, a site-wide rebuild began in January 2020, with members of AND’s Reading office (known as Club Newton) delivering a brand new responsive, user-friendly website that launched officially in April. The new site enables the charity to more efficiently manage content, and respond to incoming enquiries faster - and the timing, it turns out, couldn’t have been more critical.

The launch of the new site coincided with the announcement of lockdown by the UK Government as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. It has, therefore, proved absolutely vital in communicating Launchpad’s response to Covid-19 quickly and clearly. Where it would not have been possible before, the new website has enabled Launchpad to announce an emergency fundraising appeal online to encourage local people to donate, providing direct support and assistance to the homeless or those at risk of homelessness during the pandemic. 

Ian Caren, CEO of Launchpad, said: “The relaunch of our website has come at a critical time for Launchpad. It’s imperative that we effectively communicate how we are continuing to support extremely vulnerable individuals, couples and families in our local area during the pandemic, whether that’s for our current clients; people who need to access our help urgently; or for people who want to support our work with a donation. The Covid-19 outbreak has had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on housing and homelessness, and we are expecting an increase in need in the coming weeks and months.

“Having a new website has been crucial in helping us clearly communicate any changes and updates to our operations, and has also enabled us to launch an emergency appeal so we can raise funds to support our work during the pandemic. This would not have been as easy to do with our old website. We are hugely grateful to the AND Digital team for the immense value they have added. Their help, hard work and support has meant a lot to us here at Launchpad.”

Shan Beerstecher, Club Executive for the Reading-based team at AND Digital, said: “It’s been extremely rewarding to work with Launchpad and give back to our local community in some way - and while it didn’t start out with responding to Covid-19 in mind, it’s been vital for the charity to have a fully-functioning, easy-to-use website at this time. We truly believe in the fantastic work done by Launchpad in preventing homelessness and helping people affected by homelessness to rebuild their lives.

“We’ve worked closely with the whole team there to make the site more intuitive and user-friendly, and to ensure that uploading content is simple and straightforward to do. This will save the team invaluable time, and allow them to focus on other critical tasks within the organisation.”

Currently, donations to Launchpad can be made through its JustGiving page. Going forward, AND Digital will be working with Launchpad to build a function on the new website that will allow the charity to collect donations directly. 

To donate to Launchpad, please visit: https://www.launchpadreading.org.uk/campaign/