How can we spread the word about the amount of fantastic volunteering that goes on in Reading? How can we tell people about the support we give to emerging community groups and established charities? How can we promote the work of local charities to people who may not be aware of how many voluntary organisations there are in Reading?
These are the questions we wanted to address during 2014. It’s not always easy to describe all the different things we do at RVA. We decided to go out and about.
It started with us joining forces with Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of Volunteers Week
And then we thought about all the festivals that take place in Reading. A great opportunity for us to promote our services as well as have some fun.
The first outing was at the East Reading Festival. Gazebo, tables, chairs, leaflets, jenga, sweets, pop-up banners …… They could all be squeezed into the back of my Citroen C3 (just!) And after thunder and lightening on Saturday, Sunday dawned as a beautiful sunny day – so I added high factor sun cream and a big bottle of water to the list.
A big thanks to Nick from Reading Refugee Support Group who helped me erect our new gazebo – a pop-up one makes all the difference. Also to Simi and Rob (2 local Community Organisers) who helped set up the tables etc. I even had time to teach Simi the finer details of jenga before the festival got going!
Throughout the day we had a team of RVA people handing out leaflets, talking to people who were interested in volunteering, encouraging families to play jenga or have a chat. We met lots potential volunteers (including someone whose partner was just about to give birth to their first baby – he thought he had better wait for a while before committing himself to volunteering!) We chatted with several local Councillors, including the new Mayor of Reading. We had our photos taken in our new tee-shirts. And I went home with a red nose despite the sun cream!
So what did we learn from this? A pop-up gazebo is a must! Tee-shirts really help to get us noticed. People don’t always want to spend lots of time talking to us, so the more leaflets etc they can take away the better. And finally, if we do another quiz, keep it short. (We handed out nearly 100 copies and only a handful were returned.)
Worthwhile, great fun and tiring. Next week it’s Reading Waterfest, and then Caversham Festival in July. We will be there so look out for the tee-shirts!