News from Reading Neighbourhood Network – 4 March 2021

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

News articles

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • The SHARE checklist – Tackling misinformation

    19 February 2021The SHARE checklist – Tackling misinformation

    News form: Reading Voluntary Action

    The government has launched a new website aimed at stopping the spread of false information. It encourages people to use the SHARE checklist before liking, commenting or sharing content online, with the aim of stopping the spread of false and harmful information about medical advice, vaccines, and technology scares.

    -Source: Rely on official sources for medical and safety information. Check the facts about vaccinations and coronavirus on the NHS website and GOV.UK.
    -Headline: Headlines don’t always tell the full story. Always read to the end before you share articles about coronavirus, including those about vaccines.
    -Analyse: Analyse the facts. If something sounds unbelievable, it very well might be. Independent fact-checking services are correcting false information about coronavirus and vaccines every day.
    -Retouched: Watch out for misleading pictures and videos in stories about coronavirus vaccines. They might be edited, or show an unrelated place or event. Check to see who else is using the photo.
    -Error: Look out for mistakes. Typos and other errors might mean the information is false. Official guidance about coronavirus will always have been carefully checked.

    Further information
    -Read more on the SHARE checklist website.
    -Read more on the Full Fact website – the UK’s independent fact checking charity, working to fact check and correct misinformation on coronavirus, vaccines and Brexit.

  • How ABC to Read is supporting children with their reading during the Covid-19 pandemic

    18 February 2021How ABC to Read is supporting children with their reading during the Covid-19 pandemic

    News from: ABC to read (Assisting Berkshire Children to Read)

    With school closures, a lot of ABC to Read’s volunteers paused their usual face-to-face support in primary schools. Our mission to help children access good literacy skills continues and there has never been a more important time for our work so we have adapted our support to offering virtual reading sessions so that we can still be here for children both in schools and at home.

    We know that one-to-one, face to face, teaching is the best method to support children, particularly if they have barriers to their learning, but we have been able to adjust to online sessions. These sessions are held via Zoom and, as with our usual face-to-face support, all safeguarding measures are strictly adhered to. Our volunteers are trained to ensure children’s safety online (and offline) is their number one priority; they all hold clear enhanced DBS checks as well as having completed training in safeguarding.

    Many, many children will have fallen behind with their reading during school closures and ABC to read is very well-positioned to step in and help these children to catch up with vital reading support.

    Schools can get in touch: Schools can contact us at to benefit from this support. Following on from this initial contact we obtain signed permission slips from each parent and arrange the virtual sessions until such time as we are able to resume our usual face-to-face support.

    If you’d like to volunteer: If volunteers would like to be trained as an ABC to read mentor, then please contact us at With your help we can mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on our children’s education. The Department for Education has already acknowledged that one-to-one or small-group tutoring will be crucial in getting children’s reading back up to speed.

    Further information: Watch testimonials about the work ABC to Read does on its YouTube Channel, which also includes lots of videos of volunteers reading stories!

  • Reading Lions Club – Lion’s Den community grants scheme

    17 February 2021

    News from: Lions Club of Reading

    Reading Lions Club is once again reaching out to small local community groups and small local charities to offer financial support. Many local community groups do not have access to grant funding or the resources to invest in significant fundraising and yet they continue to provide a valued service to our community even during these challenging times.

    Through our own fundraising events and with support from the ‘Round up for Reading’ campaign, we have set aside £10,000 to give away in small community grants, each of up to £750 to support local community projects. We are inviting local groups to submit a grant application for their local project. Entry opens on 19 February 2021.

    Stage one: Email your completed application or post to Lion Jo Hamblin, 18, West Court, West Drive, Sonning, Reading, RG4 6GL, no later than 9 April 2021.

    Stage two: The successful first stage applicants will be notified by email. You will then be asked to talk in more detail to a small panel on a Zoom call at a pre-arranged time on 19 or 20 April 2021. Interviews will take place between 18:30 and 20:30. Each applicant is allocated a ten-minutes slot – max 2 persons to attend the Zoom call to represent each group.

    Stage three: Successful applicants will be notified by email and the grants will be distributed by 30 April 2021.

    Each successful group must be able to demonstrate how the grant will benefit the local community and mirror our own objectives which is to promote the health and wellbeing of the Reading community by improving the local environment, supporting our youth and helping individuals in times of need. Any grant awarded must be used for a specific project and not be used for general day-to-day running costs.

    Further information: Read more and download an application form on the Reading Lions Club website (

  • Freehold disposal of 2–4 Darwin Close – bidding open until 2 April 2021

    15 February 2021Freehold disposal of 2–4 Darwin Close – bidding open until 2 April 2021

    News from: Reading Borough Council

    The council property 2–4 Darwin Close, Reading, RG2 0RB is now on the market. The formal bidding process through the open market and the third sector process has now commenced and local voluntary organisations are invited to submit their proposals by 12:00 on Friday 2 April 2021. The property, which comprises office and warehouse space, is being advertised by Haslams.

    Viewings of the property are being arranged by Haslams, by appointment only. They will take place on Thursday 25 February 2021 and Thursday 4 March 2021 from 11:00 to 13:00. Viewings will be in 15 minute slots. Please contact Tanya Le Sueur on 01189 211515 or to book.

    Third sector application process
    -Applications and accompanying documents should be sent to by email only to the council’s Voluntary Sector Support Team. The email for submissions is
    -Officers will assess bids on the basis of the value provided to Reading Borough Council of releasing the property in accordance with the council’s Third Sector Premises Policy Statement to a local voluntary organisation, based on the contribution to the council’s priorities as set out in the Corporate Plan.
    -An application form and scoring system for bids are available from the contact listed below.
    -All bids received from the voluntary sector will be reported to Policy Committee.
    -The freehold of the property is being advertised on the open market by Haslams Surveryors LLP, County House, 17 Friar Street,Reading, RG1 1DB – read more on their website here.

    Interested organisations should submit a bidding application form based on the following:
    Proposal for use of the property: please provide an outline of your proposed use of the property and how this will benefit local council taxpayers, addressing the priorities of the Corporate Plan:

    -Safeguarding and protecting those that are most vulnerable.
    -Providing the best life through education, early help and healthy living.
    -Providing homes for those in most need.
    -Keeping the town clean, safe, green and active.
    -Providing infrastructure to support the economy.
    -Remaining financially sustainable to deliver these service priorities.

    Basis of your offer: please state whether the offer is subject to any terms and conditions such as building survey, planning permission, third party funding etc.

    Building summary: please set out a summary of the building in terms of current condition, potential opportunities and suitability for your proposed use. Please set out in sufficient detail a programme of any maintenance or improvement works you would wish to carry out at the property together with a cost summary and any related dependencies such as Listed status, Building Regulations, Planning Permission etc.

    Supporting information: please complete the application form with the following information to support your bid:

    -Details of your bid offer.
    -Details of your organisational structure including legal status, constitution, terms of reference etc.
    -Audited accounts for the last 2 financial years.
    -Evidence of your experience in managing a property, including managing a Listed property.
    -Evidence of access to an experienced property manager on an ongoing basis.
    -A description of your current activity in Reading and how it has benefited local communities or added value to local services.
    -Business Plan and budget to support your proposal specifically addressing matters relating to the proposed use and the building condition.

    Legal costs: The purchaser to pay the council’s reasonable legal costs including any abortive costs should a transaction not complete.

    For information and advice on the third sector bidding process contact Reading Voluntary Action’s Advice Service Manager, Herjeet Randhawa by emailing

Upcoming events

  • Thu
    19:00 - 20:30Online

    This is one of a series of talks by Time to Talk West Berkshire and is aimed at those living with or supporting a child or young person and draws upon our collective knowledge and experience of working with this age group. These are not ‘how to parent’ talks but rather a guide to both increase understanding and knowledge as well as provide some practical strategies for supporting both you and your child. The talks are designed to work as a complete series and as such do lead on from each other but you can also attend single talks if preferred.

    Being a parent/carer is not easy and very often, self care falls down our list of priorities. However, self care is an essential part of coping and is a valuable tool in maintaining our emotional and mental wellbeing. Children and young people learn a lot from watching the adults around them and self care is no different . By looking after ourselves, we can help those around us look after themselves. This talk will look at why we often overlook self care as a coping strategy and how we can work out our own ways to incorporate self care into busy lifestyles.

    Tickets £5. Book your place via Eventbrite.

  • Wed
    18:30 - 19:15Online 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.

  • Thu
    13:00 - 14:30Online

    The right services at the right time - Reading is blessed with so many activities and services yet still many people don’t know about them. Frontline volunteers can often spot the need but feel confused or anxious about the next steps. This forum will focus on supporting people to find the services and events that are just right for them. From starting the conversation to making the referral.

    What is social prescribing and how do people access it? Hear from RVA’s Social Prescribers about their work and the kinds of community groups and organisations they often refer and signpost people to.

    Useful guides – RVA Directory; Reading Services Guide; using Google
    What’s the difference between signposting and referral?
    What training do my volunteers need?
    Helpful questions to ask people and how to ask them.

    PLUS – all the usual news, funding updates and networking opportunities.

    Please click on this link to book.

  • 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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