Ready Friends Toolkit

Welcome to the Ready Friends Toolkit

May 2020

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve added three new sections to the Ready Friends Toolkit: live online meetups, telephone and video befriending and storytelling, podcasts and audiobooks.

If you are feeling lonely, there are lots of online and telephone activities that you can join in live, with other people who may share your interests and current challenges. Some are national charities and organisations, but you can also find local community groups offering ways you can ‘meet up’ with other people from your home.

The sound of another voice may soothe and relax, even if it isn’t live. Most of us have access to the radio and TV, which can offer a welcome on-tap connection to the outside world when we need it. If you have internet access, another resource that can be calming, fascinating and take you into a completely different space is the world of podcasts and audiobooks.

We are working on more updates to the toolkit to reflect the changed circumstances we all find ourselves in due to the coronavirus pandemic. We welcome ideas, information and suggestions from you to help us develop it. To get in touch please send a message to ready.friends@rva.org.uk.

May 2019

This toolkit is divided into 6 sections, where you will find all you need to reduce loneliness and social isolation in your street, community, and for family and friends.

In each section, you will find ways to get started – aimed at people with little or no previous experience of taking social action. For existing groups and charities, you will also find suggestions for improving and developing what you offer local people.

A shorter paper version of the toolkit is available from your local library, or you can download it from this link: RVA Ready Friends Toolkit

The toolkit will grow over time and we welcome ideas, information and suggestions from you to help us develop it. To get in touch please send a message to ready.friends@rva.org.uk.

Foreword from Councillor Karen Rowland

Our neighbourhoods and communities can and should be a place of welcoming comfort: a place to find a friendly face, a passing greeting, a chat, or even where we strike up a friendship that enriches our lives. But to some, a community can be a painful reminder of how lonely they are.

In our neighbourhoods and our social groups, we all know of people that may be isolated or spend more hours alone than they would like to. When we recognise this in others, we feel bad, wanting to do something, but not knowing quite how or what to do.

The Ready Friends toolkit is here to help you take that first step. This booklet provides real, practical tools to help you identify loneliness in a neighbour, an associate or an acquaintance, and gives you practical advice on how you can reach out to them. The toolkit gives tips on what you can do yourself, and how to involve others in creating opportunities to reach out to those that may desperately wish to be included, but don’t know how to take that first step themselves.

I’m thrilled that this toolkit has been created here in Reading to enable the wonderful, caring communities and individuals in this town to take real steps in reducing the isolation and loneliness right where we live. This effort truly speaks to each of us that want to engender a society that can enrich the lives of everyone who calls Reading home.

Taken from ‘A Connected Society: a strategy for tackling isolation and loneliness’ and reproduced with permission from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Artist: Zuhura Plummer.

Contents

1. Understanding
• What are loneliness and social isolation?
• How can I tell if someone is lonely?
• How do I start a conversation?
• Talking to people with dementia, autism or a disability
• Research and the strategic context.

2. Taking action
• Things I can do for myself and for others
• Volunteer for a befriending or buddying service
• How I can start something in my neighbourhood?

3. Help and resources
• Finding out what’s on near me
• Help finding what’s right for me
• Help to get online
• Help to get to out and about
• Local support for groups and organisations
• How to publicise my activity or group
• Free or low-cost printing
• Finding funding
• Places to meet
• Networking and collaborating.

4. Showing off!
• How can I demonstrate the impact my group or activity has had?
• Quality awards.

5. Be inspired!
• Films
• Success stories.

6. Further information.
• Acknowledgements
• References and useful websites
• Population-specific resources.