Newsletter (original version)

  • Nominate a local hero for a Census 2021 Purple Plaque

    28 December 2020Nominate a local hero for a Census 2021 Purple Plaque

    Do you know someone in your area who is a community hero?

    To mark Census 2021 in March next year, a competition has launched to find the nation’s unsung community heroes. 22 people across England and Wales, one for each census that has taken place, will have their community spirit and efforts commemorated with a unique purple plaque.

    The iconic purple plaques, in the brand colour of Census 2021, can be placed at the winner’s home, place of work or a community building depending on their preference and permissions. From a schoolteacher who has transformed lives, to a carer who has given comfort, Berkshire is bursting with ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things.
    How to nominate

    To nominate someone visit and give your reason why. The closing date is 31 December 2020 and nominees will be judged by a panel of community champions, led by Gavin and Stacey actress and TV presenter Joanna Page. The plaques will be installed ahead of census day, 21 March 2021.

    The census is a national survey that has taken place every ten years since 1801 (except in 1941). Data from the census is used to plan public services throughout the UK. As neighbourhoods continue to grow, it is especially important that we have accurate information about local residents.

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  • New Family Carers Card

    12 December 2020New Family Carers Card

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Many people are family carers and support someone who relies on them to collect shopping, prescriptions and other essential items. You may not identify yourself as a carer because you are firstly a parent, a wife, husband, daughter, son, grandchild, friend or neighbour.

    Reading Mencap have produced “The Reading Family Carers Card” which is available to carers for FREE and it will identify you as a family carer in order to help shorten the time you might have to spend queueing for a shop, a pharmacy or even a health appointment. It is supported by Reading Borough Council.

    How do I access a family carers card for me or someone else?

    If you are already linked to a support service, contact them and they will advise you on how to get your card. If not, see various services below who will support you to access your family carers card.

    -Carers Hub email Tel 0118 324 7333
    -Reading Mencap email – Tel 0118 966 2518
    -Age UK Berkshire – email Tel 0118 959 4242
    -Berkshire Cancer Centre- email Tel 0118 322 8700 (cards will be available to patients actively receiving treatment from the service, this if for Reading only)

    For more information see the link below which contains a video explaining the card and how to get one:

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  • Oxford Road stories project – deadline 8 January 2021

    11 December 2020Oxford Road stories project – deadline 8 January 2021

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Reading is one of 68 areas of England to receive a share of a £95 million government fund having secured High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) status for three conservation areas in the centre of the town. As a result, Reading will receive up to £806,500 for the implementation of a four-year programme agreed with Historic England. This amount will be match funded by Reading Borough Council. You can read more here.

    In advance of the wider cultural programme, Historic England offered several pilot grants to initiate and test projects to engage communities. Reading has been successful in achieving a grant of £9,231 to run a pilot project for the HSHAZ. This pilot project titled ‘Re-imagining the high street through your stories’ will focus on the Oxford Road conservation area, specifically the East end of Oxford Road (from Howard Street to Russel Street). The aim of the project is to engage with the Oxford Road communities, to explore people’s real stories of Oxford Road and to link them with their local heritage and rich multicultural history.

    Get involved: As part of the pilot project, local artists will soon be creating art to display along the Oxford Road which celebrates the amazingly diverse lives and cultures of the Oxford Road community and their histories. Can you help inspire this artwork by sharing your stories? What to share:

    -Your memories
    -Hidden histories
    -Anything that you feel represents YOU and YOUR lives.

    How to share: Please send to or you can address to ‘Oxford Road HSHAZ Project’ and drop them off at a letter box collection point at either: LifeSpring Church, 143 – 145 Oxford Road, or Battle Library, 420 Oxford Road. The deadline for submissions is 8 January 2021.

    Every person who shares their stories with us will also be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win vouchers for local shops and businesses. Remember to leave your contact details if you use one of the drop-off points. If you have any questions, contact the team at

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  • Friends of the Elderly Grants for older people in financial need

    7 December 2020Friends of the Elderly Grants for older people in financial need

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    Friends of the Elderly (FotE) provide grants of up to £400 to older people living on low incomes.

    These grants are for older people who are:
    -Resident in England and Wales
    -Of/over state pension age
    -In privately owned, privately rented, or social housing, but NOT in residential care or a nursing home
    -Living on low incomes and with savings of less than £4,000
    -Not previously a member of the UK Armed Forces

    These grants can only be accessed via a third-party Referral Agent who knows you in a professional or community capacity. All communication with FotE about your grant will be via your Referral Agent. Examples of Referral Agents include local authority representatives, social services representative, charities, housing associations, community organisations, Information, Advice and Guidance providers, health and social care teams/keyworkers, health centres, cultural and religious centres.

    Your Referral Agent commits to being your representative throughout this process.

    There are currently four grant streams open.

    HOME ESSENTIALS grants help with the cost of replacing everyday items in the home, small home repairs and mobility adaptations.

    DIGITAL CONNECTION grants are to help older people get online and stay connected and can be used towards the cost of equipment such as tablets and smartphones as well as Broadband/Wi-Fi/Mi-Fi costs.

    FINANCIAL SUPPORT grants are help with unexpected bills and large costs such as utility bills, funeral costs, moving fees etc.

    ESSENTIAL LIVING COSTS grants include clothing, food, medicines, books, and anything that has become unmanageable either because of the Covid-19 pandemic or due to some pre-existing need.

    Applications may be submitted at any time. They try to process grant applications as quickly as possible and aim to give a decision within 4 weeks of receiving a completed application with all the necessary evidence. At exceptionally busy times this may take a little longer.

    Further information and how to apply:

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  • Energy vouchers available from Citizens Advice Reading – by referral

    30 November 2020Energy vouchers available from Citizens Advice Reading – by referral

    News from Citizens Advice Reading

    Organisations in Berkshire who work with people who may be struggling with their energy bills, for all sorts of reasons – debts, loss of job, because they are vulnerable or elderly or living in cold homes  – can make a referral to Citizens Advice Reading for energy vouchers.

    Citizens Advice Reading is reaching out through Berkshire Community Foundation to extend their reach to all organisations who have frontline teams, working with eligible clients, who can be referred through to them. The funding is only available until 21 January 2021 and is for clients who meet the following criteria:

    -use a prepayment meter

    -have been affected by Covid-19 and

    -are struggling to top up their fuel.

    The vouchers have a value of £28 for a single person and £49 for a family household – each client who qualifies can potentially receive up to 3 vouchers, so a really valuable contribution to winter energy costs.

    A referral is required from the charity or organisation working with the eligible client. Here is a link to the online form: Fuel Vouchers Request form.  Once completed, Citizens Advice Reading will carry out checks and ensure clients aren’t accessing the scheme through more than one route. They are aiming for a 3 working day turnaround time from receipt of request to issue of the first voucher.

    If you have any questions, please get in touch with Jenny Neagle at Citizens Advice Reading on

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  • Food waste collections start in February 2021

    30 November 2020Food waste collections start in February 2021

    News from Reading Borough Council (RBC)

    Reading Borough Council is introducing a weekly food waste collection for residents in February 2021, as well as reducing the size of the general waste bins. The recycling team are keen to engage with as many community associations as possible.

    If you are able to help with distribution of information to residents of Reading they would like to hear from you. The recycling team are also going to be translating some of their communications into other languages, so if you think this would help please get in touch.

    Please contact with your information and an officer will get in contact. Read more about the new scheme on the RBC website here.

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  • Mental Health Community Grants – open until 9 December 2020

    24 November 2020Mental Health Community Grants – open until 9 December 2020

    News from Reading Voluntary Action (RVA)

    We are pleased to announce this new funding to deliver early help and wellbeing support for Black and Asian Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities within Berkshire West.

    The programme aims to identify voluntary sector organisations that can deliver and support BAMER groups in our communities accessing early help, support with navigating the system to access the right level of support they need to prevent mental ill health, reduce mental health stigma and promote good wellbeing. Groups can apply for a maximum of £5,000 with multiple applications. The funding is from Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which has been awarded £20,000 as part of winter pressures planning in delivering Mental Health Urgent and Emergency Care for 2020/21. RVA is managing the grants process in partnership with Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, Involve – Wokingham and Berkshire Health NHS Foundation Trust.

    The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequalities within the BAMER communities across health, social care, and social determinants of life such as loss of finances, unemployment/redundancies, social isolation including people living alone and people not being able to go out due to complexities. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a well-recognised collective spirit of communities coming together to help rebuild our social networks and support people in need in the communities. We have seen the strength in joint collaboration of health, social care and our voluntary sector partners working to deliver service integration for all.

    Whilst we recognise that there is an incredible voluntary and community sector and many larger groups and charities need financial support, we have specifically been awarded this sum to distribute to those groups who often do not have the same access to funding opportunities. Your organisation will need to fit the criteria outlined in the guidance notes.

    To make an application:

    Read the guidance notes here.

    Complete the online form here.

    You will need to submit your organisation’s set of accounts and bank statement with your application. The application deadline is 9 December  2020, successful applicants will be notified by 14 December 2020 and your project is to be completed by 31 March 2021.

    If you need help with applying or have any questions about this funding, please contact Herjeet Randhawa, RVA Advice Manager at or telephone our main number on 0118 937 2273. One-to-one support is available to all small community groups in Reading for support with this application and a meeting can be set up via telephone or Zoom.

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  • RVA launches expanded Social Prescribing service

    14 November 2020RVA launches expanded Social Prescribing service

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    RVA is extending its existing Social Prescribing service to work with Primary Care Networks across Reading. This month RVA welcomes four new Social Prescribing Link Workers: Sharon Fitton, Louise Keane, Helen Murphy and Charlotte Netherton-Sinclair. They join longstanding Social Prescribers Amber Holdway and Sarah Martin, and Social Prescribing Coordinator Liz Morrison at RVA, and Age UK Berkshire’s Social Prescriber Jodie Burrage.

    The Social Prescribing team will be working with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) across Reading, taking referrals from GPs and healthcare practitioners, as well as Reading Borough Council Adult Social Care, Royal Berkshire Hospital Occupational Therapists and Talking Therapies.

    The aim of the Social Prescribing service is to link people aged 16 and over to the activities and support offered by Reading’s voluntary and community groups, empowering people to improve their health and wellbeing. NHS England explains why Social Prescribing is so valuable:

    It’s estimated that one in five of the people who go to see their GP are troubled by things that can’t be cured by medical treatment. GPs tell us that they spend significant amounts of time dealing with the effects of poor housing, debt, stress and loneliness. Many people are overwhelmed and can’t reach out to make the connections that could make a difference to their situation. This is especially true for people who have long-term conditions, who need support with their mental health, who are lonely or isolated, or who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

    That’s where Social Prescribing Link Workers come in, helping people to identify what matters to them and work out how to connect with the community activities that might make a difference.

    Further information
    -If you have received support from the Social Prescribing service in the past and would like us to get in touch again, please email
    -If you are a professional looking to make a referral, please email
    -Read more at and check back as we update the Social Prescribing resources on our website over the coming weeks.

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  • Reading Rotary Virtual Santa Run 2020

    13 November 2020Reading Rotary Virtual Santa Run 2020

    The Seventh Reading Rotary Santa Run is now open for entries. Due to the uncertainty caused by coronavirus it will not be possible for us to all run together. Participants will complete a safe Virtual Run at any time either in the park, around town, up and down their stairs, or even on a treadmill, between 1 December and 31 December 2020. Families and friends can get together to run, walk, jog or cycle in their own bubble giving everyone the opportunity to join in the festive fun.

    Reading Rotary organises the event and this year’s race will be in aid of various Rotary charities. In the past they have supported Macmillan Nurses, Sport in Mind, Launchpad, The Multiple Sclerosis Society and many other charities.

    All entrants, including children, will receive a unique special event medal and there will be prizes for all ages.

    As usual they expect entrants of all abilities, including children, babies in buggies, those with disabilities, dog owners and of course serious runners, joggers, walkers, cyclists and swimmers.

    Enter a team to raise funds for your charity: Rotary are particularly encouraging charities to enter sponsored teams to raise funds for their own charity. There is a special rate of £75 for charity teams of 10. The teams can run as individuals or in their own bubble.

    Further information
    Go to the Reading Santa Run website to find out more and register.
    Download a flyer.

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  • Veg4Reading update

    12 November 2020Veg4Reading update

    News from: Food4Families

    The Veg4Reading project started in June 2020 in response to the number of residents needing additional food parcels or hot meals in order to get by. The project has recruited 71 volunteers to date, who have been working at four Food4families sites, Whitley GrowAllot, Southcote GrowAllot, Lavender Place and Katesgrove Community Allotment, to extend the food growing capacity and grow additional fruit and veg.

    This produce, along with surplus donated from local allotment and home growers, has been distributed to the following 6 organisations that provide free food parcels and hot meals to vulnerable residents:

    -Whitley Community Development Association
    -The Weller Centre
    -The Red Kitchen
    -New Beginnings

    Between them they feed 1,500 people per month. The total of donated veg and fruit so far is 755kg at a value equivalent to £3,500.

    Food4families are hoping to secure the funding required to keep the project going through into 2021 to respond to the continued need. We are still open to receive donations of fruit and veg and have ongoing volunteer opportunities. For more details contact 07551 942960 or email

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Upcoming events

  • Wed
    15:00 - 16:00Online via Zoom

    In this Zoom session, we will explore how volunteering can play a role in helping you in your journey towards employment.

    Whether seeking to return to the workplace following a break, looking for your first job or seeking to transfer into a new field, the right volunteering role can prove to be a valuable asset in successfully securing employment.

    After a brief general introduction to volunteering, the session will outline how volunteering can make a difference to your job search, from building confidence and demonstrating soft skills to standing out from the crowd and building your network.

    We will then explore how RVA can help you to identify the right role and other services available to support you into employment.

    Sign up at HERE to secure your place

  • Thu
    11:00 - 12:00Online via Zoom

    In this Zoom session, we will explore how the right volunteering role can play a part in helping to enhance your sense of wellbeing.

    Whether seeking to return to the workplace following a break, looking for your first job or seeking to transfer into a new field, the right volunteering role can prove to be a valuable asset in successfully securing employment.

    Studies suggest that those who volunteer can benefit from a boost to their own wellbeing. This boost can result in an increased sense of happiness and life satisfaction and a reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety.

    After a brief general introduction to volunteering, the session will outline how volunteering can provide you with a unique gateway to accessing the five ways to wellbeing:

    • Give
    • Keep Learning
    • Stay Active
    • Connect
    • Take Notice

    We will then explore how RVA can help you to identify the right role and other services available to support your journey towards wellbeing.

    Sign up HERE to secure your place

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