A Disability Awareness Day for Reading took place on Wednesday 8 August 2018 at the Weller Centre in Caversham. Themed around culture, wellbeing and leisure, the event celebrated the diversity of Reading residents and visitors who may have a physical disability, sensory need or neurological condition. An estimated 120 members of the public attended the event at the accessible community centre on Amersham Road.
Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards opened the event and cut a specially decorated cake. Staff from Reading Borough Council, Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) and the Weller Centre helped to run the day, and volunteers recruited by RVA gave up their time to ensure that everyone could participate fully.
Twenty-two information stands provided information about services and groups available to disabled people living in Reading. Contributors included Guide Dogs, with their app for crossing the road, Reading Deaf Centre, Reading Fibromyalgia, The Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, The Stroke Association, Readibus, Thames Valley Police, Get Berkshire Active, Unlock Your Wellbeing, Healthwatch Reading and Arthritis Matters.
Entertainment was provided for adults and children, as well as interactive disability awareness sessions. There was the opportunity for attendees to try out Tai Chi, mindfulness, singing, or some simple sign language. They could also enjoy a manicure or hand massage. The event concluded with an powerful performance from Rona Topaz, disabled singer and songwriter. Refreshments were provided by Tesco and Reading Rotary Club.
This was the second time Reading has held a Disability Awareness Day – the first one took place in June 2017 and the overwhelming feedback from the day was that it was valuable, enjoyable and participants very much wanted another.
The Disability Awareness Day has now established itself as an annual event for Reading. It’s an opportunity for disabled people to obtain information and support and generally meet one another. As well as raising awareness of the existence and role of the PDSN Network, the event promotes the vast array of services, voluntary organisations and charities, which exist to ensure that disabled people in Reading can live full and independent lives.