Newsletter (original version)

  • Do you need help with your census form?

    28 March 2021Do you need help with your census form?

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    Reading Voluntary Action is pleased to be working with the Office for National Statistics and the Good Things Foundation to offer the Census Support Service for Reading during March and April.

    Every 10 years a complete census is taken of the current UK population and this provides valuable information to help plan local services in the future. The date for this year’s census is 21 March 2021 and most households will complete the census on or just after that date.

    The census letter also has instructions for ordering a paper form for people without internet access, but did you know we can help householders without internet to fill in census forms too, to save time filling in the paper form? This can be done at the library, or our advisers can complete the census form over the phone.

    We can also help with general enquiries and tasks like generating an access code for your household if you don’t have your census letter, or generating an individual access code if you prefer to answer separately from your household questionnaire.

    Our census support line on 0118 334 1095 is open from Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00. During the peak period of the census our support line is also open Saturdays 10:00 – 15:00. If there is no reply straight away please leave your contact details and we’ll call you back. You can use the helpline for general enquiries or to to book a face-to-face or telephone appointment to fill in the census with one of our advisers. If you can’t fill in the online form yourself we can fill in the form for you.

    We can also answer enquiries by email at Please allow up to 48 hours for a reply.

    If you have any general questions about the census you can also find a lot of information on the census website at

    As well as RVA’s census team, Communicare is also offering census support from their office in East Reading – they can be contacted on 0118  926 3941.

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  • Spring courses from Food4Families

    26 March 2021Spring courses from Food4Families

    Food4Families are pleased to be offering two new courses starting this April:

    Growing Healthy Conversations – free eight week courses.
    Practise your conversational English whilst learning gardening skills at our local community gardens.
    -small groups and socially distanced
    -all equipment, tools, seeds etc provided
    -travel costs can be refunded.

    Growing Careers – free six week courses
    Practical, hands-on introduction to what you could be doing if you got a job in horticulture.
    -1.5 hour sessions, based outdoors in local Reading community gardens.
    -seed sowing and propagation
    -plant care
    -soil health
    -garden maintenance
    -sustainable growing techniques.

    Please download a flyer for dates and times:
    Growing Healthy Conversations flyer
    Growing Careers flyer.


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  • Growing up in Reading: Key findings from a report by RVA’s Youth Social Action Team

    26 March 2021Growing up in Reading: Key findings from a report by RVA’s Youth Social Action Team

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    Reading Voluntary Action has published the key findings from research into what it’s like to grow up in Reading. The research was shaped and carried out by a Youth Social Action Team supported by RVA and the University of Reading Participation Lab. It was completed before the start of the pandemic, but the pandemic has made the priorities identified by the Youth Social Action Team – especially tackling loneliness among young people and supporting the diverse communities in Reading – even more urgent.

    702 young people (aged 11-18) – from across Reading’s schools, colleges and youth organisations – participated in the research by either completing a questionnaire designed by the Youth Social Action Team or taking part in a focus group.

    As a result of the research, the priorities identified by the Youth Social Action Team are:
    -Mental health and wellbeing, especially tackling loneliness
    -Being and feeling safe
    -Creating a sense of community
    -Widening the diversity of activities and opportunities available for young people

    Download the report below to read more about the key findings on: voice and self-expression, life satisfaction, the future, challenges and changes needed, community in Reading, and issues important to young people.

    Download a copy of Growing up in Reading here.

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  • Catalyst have Community Connector opportunities in Reading – paid work for young people through Kickstart

    26 March 2021Catalyst have Community Connector opportunities in Reading – paid work for young people through Kickstart

    News from: Catalyst Housing

    Catalyst have created a ‘Kickstart in the Community’ project that offers young people paid work as ‘Community Connectors’: This is a new type of role within their Community Investment team that will help young people develop transferable skills, confidence and a local network. Working alongside Catalyst’s Community teams, Community Connectors will use their local knowledge to map local services, talk to residents, stay in touch with socially isolated older people and organise neighbourhood projects to boost community spirit and wellbeing.

    They currently have vacancies live with the Jobcentres in Southall, Broxbourne and Reading: This is our first cohort of six (two in each location) and we will be recruiting in further cohorts to these and other neighbourhoods throughout the year. If you know of any young people through your network who might be interested in working with us in these roles, please ask them to visit their work coach at the Jobcentre as soon as possible so that they can apply. Young people must be unemployed and in receipt of Universal Credit to be eligible for the roles.

    For further information please visit the Catalyst website (

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  • Voluntary sector vaccine support helpline opens

    25 March 2021Voluntary sector vaccine support helpline opens

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    Reading voluntary organisations are working together to support people to access their vaccine as they become eligible. RVA has opened a central helpline for carers, family, professionals and individuals in need of support: 0118 334 1091.

    Support includes:
    -Responding to a GP letter or confirming an appointment.
    -Registering with a GP if required.
    -Safe and friendly transport to and from a vaccine hub.
    -Buddy around the hub, with language support if required.

    Specific support may be available for:
    -People with learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder or physical disability
    -Fragile older people
    -People with dementia
    -People with communication impairments who are hard of hearing or have restricted sight
    -Those struggling with anxiety or mental illness
    -Refugees and asylum seekers
    -Anyone who is digitally excluded
    -People with potential language or cultural considerations.

    If you are a family carer of someone with a learning disability you can also contact Reading Mencap directly by calling 0118 966 2518 or emailing Download a leaflet with further information.

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  • Localgiving Magic Little Grants – deadline 31 October 2021

    25 March 2021

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    The Magic Little Grants 2021 programme promises to be even bigger and better than ever. This gives grants of £500 to small charities and community groups thanks to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Funding can go towards any of the below projects:

    -Improving mental wellbeing
    -Enabling community participation in the arts
    -Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
    -Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
    -Improving biodiversity and green spaces
    -Enabling participation in physical activity
    -Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability
    -Increasing community access to outdoor space

    If your organisation is carrying out a project within these themes, make sure to get your application in as the campaign is now live. The application process is short and simple, taking 10 minutes to complete. Each organisation may only apply once in 2021.

    If your Magic Little Grant application is successful, alongside the £500 grant you will also be awarded a year of free membership to Localgiving meaning you will not have to pay the £80 + VAT membership fee.

    Who can apply? Registered charities, community groups and charitable organisations that are schools or connected to schools are eligible to receive funding.

    The programme is now live and accepting applications until 31 October 2021. Further information and how to apply through the link below:
    Localgiving Magic Little Grants 2021

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  • Citizens Advice Reading wellbeing workshops

    23 March 2021Citizens Advice Reading wellbeing workshops

    News from: Citizens Advice Reading

    Life can bring us lots of concerns and worries, especially at the moment. Citizens Advice Reading are now offering wellbeing workshops. These are free one-off introductions to:
    -Understanding anxiety
    -Living with low moods
    -Managing stress.

    Currently these sessions are all online, so you can attend in the comfort of your own home. They last one hour and are run by our mental health coach.

    If you are interested in coming along to any of our sessions, or would like any more information, please email or check out the news section on our website

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  • Would you be interested in supporting a School Streets scheme?

    24 February 2021Would you be interested in supporting a School Streets scheme?

    News from Reading Voluntary Action (RVA)

    A school in East Reading is hoping to promote walking and cycling to school, and clean air for everyone, by starting a School Streets scheme.

    What are School Streets?

    A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic. The result is a safer, healthier and pleasant environment for everyone.

    School Street schemes offer a proactive solution for school communities to tackle air pollution, poor health and road danger reduction. A School Street scheme will encourage a healthier lifestyle and active travel to school for families and lead to a better environment for everyone. Find out more about School Streets here.

    How can I help?

    To be successful the scheme will need the help of a team of volunteers. The road outside the school will be closed for a set period (probably 45 minutes) during the school run, two volunteers would be needed to man the barriers (and drink coffee on the chilly days!) at each end.

    At the moment the school are just looking for expressions of interest from people who might be interested in helping out. If this sounds like something you would like to support then complete the form found here to be added to the volunteer update list. 

    Image courtesy of Living Streets.

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  • Get ready for Census 2021!

    24 February 2021Get ready for Census 2021!

    Households across Reading will soon be asked to take part in Census 2021.

    The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941.

    It will be the first time the census has been run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets.

    Census day will be on March 21, but households across the country will receive letters with online codes allowing them to take part from early March.

    The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity. And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

    Reading Voluntary Action is pleased to be supporting the census by participating in the Census Support Service scheme. Our team of advisers will be helping householders to fill in their online forms. The service will initially be by telephone appointment, and we hope to be able to start a Covid-safe service for visitors later if regulations permit. See for more details.

    For more information, visit

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  • Tribute to Philip Kallay

    20 February 2021Tribute to Philip Kallay

    News from: Reading Borough Council
    by Ebony George

    We would like to pay tribute to one of Reading’s community champions, Philip Kallay, who passed away after a short illness on 5 January 2021 aged 46.

    Philip moved with his family to the Hexham area in 2010 and became an active member of the Hexham Community Association (HCA) after making friends with the then Chair, Surjit “Ken” Kainth. Together they negotiated a new lease for the Hexham Community Centre, secured funding for centre improvements and supported the Whitley Big Local project (now WCDA). After being mentored by Ken, Philip became Chair of HCA shortly before Ken passed away in December 2016.

    Philip led HCA through a period of change, consulting residents on new activities and projects including an over 50’s lunch club, conversation clubs, IT drop-in sessions and continued the much-loved summer fun days and Christmas parties.

    Philip was a keen advocate for young people in his community. Along with dedicated volunteers and trustees, in 2018 they restarted a popular youth club and music technology sessions, with young people achieving nationally recognised arts awards. Philip had recently completed a Masters degree focusing on restorative youth justice and was developing a project due to start in March 2020, in partnership with Brighter Futures For Children, but this was postponed when the Covid-19 restrictions closed public access to the Hexham Community Centre.

    With the centre closed, Philip and the HCA volunteers used the opportunity to do some outreach with young people and older residents in the Hexham and Staverton Road areas, delivering food parcels and checking in on vulnerable neighbours.

    The Hexham community has lost a welcoming face, a dedicated Pastor, an enthusiastic community activist and most of all, a friend. We would like to send our condolences to his wife and family, and to all his friends at the Hexham Community Association and the New Life Kingdom Church.

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Upcoming events

  • Thu
    10:00 - 10:45Online event

    Berkshire Vision are a local charity who offer vital practical support and activities to adults and children with visual impairment.

    We are offering a training session on Sight Loss and Eye Health and this is now open to the general public. This takes the form of an informative video by our trustee Jane Veys, who is an optometrist, and an opportunity for comments afterwards.

    The training lasts approximately 45 minutes and is free. Anyone can book onto our sessions by emailing

    We look forward to welcoming you.

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