Reading tech company helps homeless charity – and just in time

Photo shows: Shan Beerstecher, Club Executive for the Reading-based team at AND Digital
AND Digital Shan Beerstecher

A Reading-based tech company 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.

The charity’s website site 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 delivering a new user-friendly website. 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 and it has proved vital in communicating Launchpad’s response to Covid-19.

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.

“We are hugely grateful to the AND Digital team for the immense value they have added.”

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.”