News from Reading Neighbourhood Network – 6 December 2019

Welcome to the latest Reading Neighbourhood Network newsletter, where you will find all the latest news and events from our members. All our news and much more can be found on our website at

News articles

  • New community and lifestyle centre planned for Dee Park

    5 December 2019

    News from Catalyst Housing

    With the planned arrival of a new community and lifestyle centre in the Dee Park housing estate, Catalyst are reaching out to all potential organisations that may have an interest in being involved. A Brighter Futures for Children Children’s Centre is confirmed as being a major tenant, however Catalyst are interested to hear from other partners, groups, businesses, charities and organisations that would either like to be based within the building or deliver services from the building.

    Catalyst would particularly encourage organisations working with youth, young adults and families to get in touch, although they are interested in hearing from any organisations representing the full social/cultural/economic demographic.

    It is hoped that the building will house a large hall with retractable seating, flexible meeting rooms, office space and a large leisure/café facility. It is also hoped that there will be a green area with park facilities within the site footprint.

    If your organisation, business, group or service would like to be considered as a stakeholder, or has any thoughts on this, then please do get in touch ASAP with Johannah Aynsley (Catalyst Gateway Area Manager) by email at

  • Early new year’s resolution – organise a Street Party in 2020!

    4 December 2019 Early new year’s resolution – organise a Street Party in 2020!

    Article by: Rhiannon Stocking-Williams (Ready Friends Coordinator)

    Street parties are a fun and safe way for people to meet their neighbours, especially for those who rarely get out, and it’s not as difficult or expensive as you may think to put one on in your neighbourhood. Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) and Reading Neighbourhood Network (RNN) would like to deliver a number of 90 minute workshops across Reading for anyone interested in running a street party in 2020.

    The Eden Project’s Big Lunch will take place over the weekend of 6-7 June 2020
    They report that in 2019, “98% of Big Lunch organisers felt more communities should hold a Big Lunch where they live. The Big Lunch provides a simple platform on which other things can grow, from informal friendships, to tackling broader issues that may affect a street or neighbourhood.”

    The Jo Cox Foundation’s Great Get Together weekend will take place again on 19-21 June 2020
    They say that “The connections we make during Get Togethers are real. Whether it’s a street party, sports day, community lunch or school assembly the events held as part of The Great Get Together change the communities they are held in and the people that attend them forever.”

    We’d like to focus on areas of our town that haven’t had a street party for a number of years, so please get in touch with Rhiannon ( at RVA if you’d like us to come to your area.

  • Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – 29 November

    28 November 2019 Fuel Poverty Awareness Day - 29 November

    News from: Citizens Advice Reading

    Fuel poverty affects 2.5 million households in England. “Heating or eating” is a choice many people have to make. Millions of households across the UK ‘self-disconnect’, turning off the heating to save money.

    Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is an annual day to raise awareness of this hidden and largely unknown problem, to highlight the effects on health and what can be done about it. Living in a cold home has serious health consequences, such as breathing problems, strokes and heart attacks, as well as premature death for many elderly or frail people. It also dramatically affects peoples’ mental health leading to depression, loneliness and an increased sense of social isolation.

    Who are the Fuel Poor in Reading? You could be affected, if you live in a rented house, live in a property with an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of E or below, if you’re young, if you’re old, if you have a long term illness or a disability, or if you have a pre-payment meter.

    What can you do to protect yourself? Pay less – find out about how to save money on your bills by switching supplier or paying the cheapest way possible. Use Less – take action on your home to block drafts, through low cost measures such as letter box flaps, key hole covers, adding insulating strips around external doors or using silicone sealant to seal drafts around windows, doors and skirting boards. Finally you should claim all of the benefits and discounts available such as the Warm Home Discount for older people, parents on low incomes with children under 5 years old, or people on a range of benefits.

    Citizens Advice Reading provides a free energy advice service, which includes help with switching supplier, home energy efficiency and help with grants, benefits and discounts. We also provide free energy advice sessions for community groups and organisations, so householders and professionals know how to tackle cold homes.

    To book a face-face energy advice appointment or a group session, contact Citizens Advice Reading on 01189 523022 or email

  • Greggs Foundation Community Grants open for application from 1 December

    27 November 2019 Greggs Foundation Community Grants open for application from 1 December

    Not-for-profit organisations developing local community projects are being offered the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £2000.

    They are interested in projects that improve resilience within the community. This can include sessional activities/respite support, equipment for sessional activities, trips and residential breaks. They are also interested in new approaches and innovative ideas as well as sustainable approaches to supporting your community.

    All projects must support a community of interest, ie people who are:
    -Disabled or suffering chronic illness.
    -Living in poverty.
    -Voluntary carers.
    -Homeless people.
    -Isolated older people.
    -Other demonstrable significant need.

    Funding timetable:
    -Applications open on 1 December 2019.
    -Applications close on 23 February 2020.
    -Decisions announced on 5 May 2020.

    For more information see The application form will appear on the website on 1 December. Please note that you will be required to complete the form in one sitting.

    Photo: Michael Taylor.

  • Co-location opportunities at Battle and Tilehurst libraries for voluntary and community groups

    26 November 2019 Co-location opportunities at Battle and Tilehurst libraries for voluntary and community groups

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    Reading Borough Council Library Services have previously advertised spaces at Tilehurst library and Battle library for potential co-location with partners. This was previously on a zero rent but on the proviso that partners would be present at certain hours to help with single staffing the libraries involved. They are now looking at changing the approach to a straight lease model with a service charge.

    Estimated charges
    -Tilehurst library, School Road, Tilehurst, RG31 5AS : Office 461 sq ft – £3,000 + service charge
    -Battle library, 420 Oxford Road, RG30 1EE : Office 261 sq ft – £1,700 + service charge

    To register interest or arrange to see one of the spaces, please contact by 18 December 2019.

  • What’s On Reading website – new guide to arts, culture and heritage events

    21 November 2019 What’s On Reading website – new guide to arts, culture and heritage events

    News from: Reading Voluntary Action

    Have you seen the new What’s On Reading website (, which aims to provide the most extensive listings guide for arts, culture and heritage events in the town? What’s On Reading is co-produced by Reading UK and Reading Arts and Venues, and welcomes event listings from organisations of all kinds.

    Voluntary and community groups can register as a partner organisation. There is no cost to list your events and it doesn’t matter how many you put on, as long as they fit into one or more of the following categories:

    -Art and heritage
    -DJ and clubbing
    -Festivals and special events
    -Food and drink
    -Theatre and spoken word
    -Tours and walks

    Read more detailed information about the criteria for listing events on the site or find out more about the website’s aims at

  • Christmas gift collections at RVA

    20 November 2019 Christmas gift collections at RVA

    This year, Reading Voluntary Action are hosting Christmas gift collections on behalf of Reading Family Aid and the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Giving Tree.

    Reading Family Aid’s Toys and Teens Appeal
    As part of their Toys and Teens Appeal, Reading Family Aid are looking for new or ‘as new gifts’ suitable for those aged 0-16, to pass on to disadvantaged children in Reading. Read a detailed list of what Reading Family Aid would like (and what they don’t want!). The last date for their collection is 1 December 2019. For more information on the Toys and Teens Appeal, please email:

    Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Giving Tree
    The Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Giving Tree appeal is collecting gifts for patients who will be in hospital over Christmas. Any suitable gifts would be welcome, but here are a few ideas:
    -Toiletries, nail art sets etc
    -Chocolates, biscuits or other edible gifts
    -Books, including crossword puzzles
    -Jigsaw puzzles or games
    -Scarves, hats, gloves, socks, jumpers etc

    The last date for their collection is Friday 13 December 2019. For more information on the RBH’s Giving Tree appeal, please email

    Making a donation
    -Donations for either appeal can be brought to reception at Community Place, on the third floor of Reading Central Library (Abbey Square – RG1 3BQ).
    -Please note, gifts do not need to be wrapped.

  • Making your community warmer this winter

    19 November 2019 Making your community warmer this winter

    News from: Ready Friends

    The Great Get Together is back this winter and they’d love for you to be part of it and to share some #mincepiemoments in your community! Jo Cox was passionate about building kinder communities and ensuring everyone feels a sense of belonging wherever they live. However, over 9 million of us in the UK currently feel lonely and it’s in all of our power to change this. As the days get colder, it’s time to make your community a bit warmer.

    What can I do to help?
    Whether it’s a roast dinner, community lunch, winter walk, carol singing or a quick mince pie and a chat, getting together can spark smiles, conversations and friendships that bring us closer. To make it easier, they’ve put together everything you need to take part in their step-by-step guide, including printable resources such as posters, invitations, activities, as well as practical advice on how to reach out to people in your community.

    What are other people doing?
    In Batley and Spen – Jo’s home – they’ll be bringing people together at local hospitals, food banks and care homes to share mince pies, have a chat and spread Jo’s #moreincommon message. If you’re on Facebook, join their Great Get Together group to see other people’s stories and tips.

  • The Berkshire Observatory

    14 November 2019 The Berkshire Observatory

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    The Berkshire Observatory is a new, one-stop shop for data on the local population. It covers all six Berkshire local authorities, including Reading. The website,, offers a goldmine of local statistical information on the Reading population, at your fingertips.

    What can I use it for?
    The easy-to-use site lets you make data comparisons at a council level, ward level and/or smaller, within Reading, across Berkshire, the South East and England. You can use it to find out all sorts of information, including, for example, which ward has the highest rate of bicycle theft, which neighbourhood has the highest number of resident pre-school children or how Reading’s air quality compares to the national average.

    Why use the data?
    The major benefit of the site is the data you access is as up to date as possible. The interactive site brings together in one place, thousands of data indicators, dynamically pulled from public sources. It is automatically updated on a regular basis. Regular use of this invaluable resource can support your work and help inform your planning and fundraising.

    To find out more about the site and how it works, join Poppy Barnard from the Public Health and Wellbeing Team for a guided tour of the site and a chance to try out the different tools. If you are interested please email the Wellbeing Team (see below). Alternatively, Poppy is happy to visit your organisation to provide a demonstration and answer your questions. Contact Poppy via or 01189 374332.

  • Celebrating Friendship Volunteers

    7 November 2019

    News from Reading Voluntary Action (RVA)

    Fifty volunteers and support staff from twenty of Reading’s community groups enjoyed an evening of celebration, sharing and learning on 1 November.

    The Crowne Plaza by Caversham Bridge hosted the first-of-its-kind event, which brought together volunteers who are helping local people facing loneliness and social isolation, all year round. The purpose of the evening was to celebrate the fantastic and essential contribution that volunteers make to the lives of people who are among the most vulnerable in our town, and hear about the positive impact they have.

    Councillor Rachel Eden, keynote speaker, highlighted the serious impact that loneliness and social isolation can have on anyone in our community and referred to Jo Cox, MP who, before her murder in 2016, campaigned tirelessly for action on this issue and stressed that “loneliness doesn’t discriminate”.

    The event was also a chance to meet volunteers in other roles, hearing about the different kinds of activity available to help reduce loneliness and social isolation – and dates were fixed-up on the night between groups to find out more about each other and explore opportunities for working together.

    Loneliness and social isolation are increasing, and cut across all communities in Reading. It’s getting harder for local community groups and charities to recruit volunteers to take action in a variety of roles. A greater diversity is needed in the pool of people willing to become friendship volunteers – the communities they represent and the times when they can volunteer.

    Anyone interested in volunteering in a friendship role can find the latest volunteering opportunities from RVA.
    -Phone: 01189 372273

Upcoming events

  • Fri
    13:00 - 15:30St Georges Church

    St Georges Road, Reading RG30 2RG

    The event is aimed at bringing people together who are isolated in our communities.

    There will be a professional singer, dancing and refreshments. There will also be a few added special Christmas treats.

    Free event, but please book by email ( or phone Sarah on 01189 374399 to confirm your place.

  • Sat
    09:30 - 13:30Caversham Court

    Church Road, Caversham, Reading RG4 7AD


    Annual sale of Scots Pine Christmas trees at Caversham Court. Naturally grown Scots pine trees harvested as part of heathland management.

    Also holly, mistletoe, pine cones, willow Christmas wreaths and other natural decorations from local sources.

    There will be BBOWT, RSPB and Fairtrade stalls with cards and a variety of gifts. Locally produced honey and beeswax products from Reading & District Beekeepers.

    St Peter's church bazaar is open at the same time and serving hot mulled apple juice as well as selling gifts.

    For more information see the website at

  • Sun
    09:30 StartForbury Gardens

    Reading RG1 1AR

    Reading Santa Run time is here again, raising tens of thousands of pounds for local charities. Reading Rotary’s race attracts around 1,500 runners to Reading town centre every December with 1k and 5k races. Entrants come from all walks of life and abilities and include children, babies in buggies, those with disabilities, dog owners and of course serious runners, joggers and walkers. All are very welcome to join us in this great family festive fun event.

    1k Mini Santa Run - This fairly level course is ideal for youngsters, adults with babies in buggies, dogs with owners and we especially welcome wheelchair users and encourage all those with disabilities to join in, dress as Santa or Elf and be part of the festive fun! Plus you can raise monies for your own particular charities if you wish.

    5k Town Centre Santa Run - For the serious runners, or those who just like to jog, run or walk along, the ‘all road’ route goes through the heart of Reading. Our race takes you past St Laurence Church, Town Hall Square into Broad Street and through the Oracle Shopping Centre. The route then takes the cycle path along the Kennet and Avon Canal before crossing and returning towards Reading via Chestnut Walk and through the Oscar Wilde Gates. It then finally continues past the Abbey Ruins to the finish outside Forbury Gardens.

    Sign up for the event online at

  • Tue
    10:15 - 13:15Community Place

    Third Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading RG1 3BQ

    Voluntary and community groups provide much needed services, often to those who are most vulnerable in our communities. Anyone working with Children or vulnerable adults has a duty to ensure that safer recruitment practices are in place for their volunteers and staff. It’s not always easy to understand just what DBS checks are needed (formerly CRB). This course will help you to gain an overview and understand what steps you should take to identify whether and to what level a DBS check is needed for your volunteers and staff.

    The workshop will cover:

    • Why did we see a change from CRB to DBS and why is it important?
    • What does ‘regulated activity’ mean and how to work out whether it applies to your volunteer/staff roles.
    • The levels of DBS checks that can be requested
    • How to complete the DBS form
    • What is the update service, the benefits and how to sign up?
    • What if the DBS shows your volunteers or staff have a criminal record or unspent convictions?
    • Your responsibilities
    • Help, support and advice that is available

    Who should attend? This workshop is for anyone who works or volunteers for a voluntary and community group and is responsible for processing DBS checks, or supervises or manages others. It is also useful for Trustees and Managers of charity’s to gain an overview of the DBS system to inform their Safeguarding Procedures.

    Cost: The cost is £10 per person which covers refreshments and printed materials. Online booking is available at

  • Thu
    10:00 - 13:00Reading International Solidarity Centre

    35-39 London Street, Reading RG1 4PS

    The next Voluntary Sector Wellbeing Forum will be on Thursday 12 December at RISC on the theme of workplace wellbeing.

    The programme will include a presentation and discussions about “Berkshire – a good place to work”, the Director of Public Health’s annual report for 2019. The annual report focuses on the mental wellbeing and musculoskeletal health of the workforce.

    If you have suggestions for other topics that can be include around workplace wellbeing, Please email then in to As the forum is only a couple of weeks before Christmas, it would be great if some fun activities can be included.

    Please register online at

  • Thu
    14:00 - 16:00Community Place

    Third Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading RG1 3BQ

    Join us for our regular Volunteer Coordinators’ Network meeting facilitated by Reading Voluntary Action.

    You will have a chance to contribute to the agenda ahead of time so that we can make sure your issue or concern can be given some attention, as well as having the opportunity to seek peer support in a confidential space from others in a similar role.

    The format is pretty informal RVA provides the tea and coffee. Feel free to bring your sandwich and eat with us if it helps your day along. You don’t need to stay for the whole event – we know everyone’s busy.

    Click here to register

  • Sun
    17:00 - 19:00The Reading Irish Centre

    96-104 Chatham Street, Reading, RG1 7HT

    We will Rock Yule is the secular answer to a traditional Carol concert. Sing all the best festive songs with our in-house singalong band and load up with festive fun with our Christmas games gurus.

    Bring your friends and family down to The Reading Irish Centre this December and fill up with festive spirit with us - everyone is welcome!

    We'll be dressing up in our party gear and we hope you do too.

    Sunday Assembly Reading is free to attend and runs entirely on donations and welcomes all - of all ages and of all backgrounds.

  • Mon
    18:15 - 20:30Caversham Court Gardens

    Church Road, Caversham, Reading RG4 7AD

    The Friends of Caversham Court Gardens invite you to their annual carol service held quite early this year. The choir of St Peter's Church will lead the singing, accompanied by the Salvation Army Band.

    Mulled wine and mince pies will be sold from the Tea Kiosk from 18.15. Wrap up warm, bring a torch to read the words and come along to sing in the festive season.

    All are welcome for this community event. Free entry.

  • Sat
    17:00 - 19:00Reading Minster

    Chain Street, Reading RG1 2HX

    Reading Male Voice Choir, Reading A440 Choir and Occasions Choir in a joint Christmas Concert raising funds for local charities.

    A beautiful concert with many carols and songs and a chance for the audience to sing. Tickets cost £6 each from the church or on the door.

  • Wed
    12:30 - 15:00Whitley Wood Fire Station

    270 Whitley Wood Road, Reading RG2 8FS

    Whitley Wood Fire Station are organising a free Christmas Day dinner for older, isolated people.

    If you know anyone that would like to attend please contact Sarah Hunneman (details below), you will need the attendee’s full name, a contact number, an address, any dietary needs and essential medical information, or you can book yourself a place.

    The station is borrowing a mini bus for the day so transport can be provided.

    Booking by Wednesday 18 December is essential as places are limited.

    Contact details
    Phone: 01189 384200

  • Thu
    18:00 - 19:30The Griffin (Upper room)

    10-12 Church Road, Caversham, Reading RG4 7AD

    Come and find out all about how to organise a street party to bring your community together.

    We will give some examples and photos of local street parties, details of when to apply for a street closure for free, how to start things off, things to remember, ideas for food and entertainment, publicity, the benefits of having a street party plus an opportunity to ask any questions.

    Free event but please book at to confirm your place.

  • Sat
    14:30 - 16:00The Griffin (Upper room)

    10-12 Church Road, Caversham, Reading RG4 7AD

    Come and find out all about how to organise a street party to bring your community together.

    We will give some examples and photos of local street parties, details of when to apply for a street closure for free, how to start things off, things to remember, ideas for food and entertainment, publicity, the benefits of having a street party plus an opportunity to ask any questions.

    Free event but please book a ticket via to confirm your place.

  • Sun
    12:30 - 16:30rLab

    Unit C1, Weldale Street, Reading RG1 7BX

    Bring along your broken items and get help to repair them. The team of volunteers will be able to help repair a wide range of items including:

    • Electronics
    • Mechanical items
    • Computers (hardware/software)
    • Toys/Furniture
    • Clothing/textiles
    • Tool sharpening

    Additionally, if you have something you are making or a craft project you are stuck with, why not bring it along and one of the repairers can give you a hand to get on the right track!

    Repair Cafe is a free event but donations are welcome to help keep it going. As well as repairs, you can pop in for a cuppa and homemade cake.

    Email if you have any questions or would like to get involved.

  • Wed
    19:00 - 21:00Salvation Army

    522 Oxford Road, Reading RG30 1EG

    The Oxford Road Safer Neighbourhood Forum brings together voluntary organisations and partners including residents, the neighbourhood police, local authorities, businesses and schools, and assists in planning local neighbourhood policing tasks, based on priorities identified by the community.

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