Ready Friends Toolkit

Welcome to the Ready Friends Toolkit!

This toolkit is divided into 6 sections, where you will find all you need to reduce loneliness and social isolation in your street, community, and for family and friends.

In each section, you will find ways to get started – aimed at people with little or no previous experience of taking social action. For existing groups and charities, you will also find suggestions for improving and developing what you offer local people.

A printed booklet will be available shortly, and will be published online to download.

The toolkit will grow over time and we welcome ideas, information and suggestions from you to help us develop it. To get in touch please send a message to ready.friends@rva.org.uk.

Foreword from Councillor Karen Rowland

Our neighbourhoods and communities can and should be a place of welcoming comfort: a place to find a friendly face, a passing greeting, a chat, or even where we strike up a friendship that enriches our lives. But to some, a community can be a painful reminder of how lonely they are.

In our neighbourhoods and our social groups, we all know of people that may be isolated or spend more hours alone than they would like to. When we recognise this in others, we feel bad, wanting to do something, but not knowing quite how or what to do.

The Ready Friends toolkit is here to help you take that first step. This booklet provides real, practical tools to help you identify loneliness in a neighbour, an associate or an acquaintance, and gives you practical advice on how you can reach out to them. The toolkit gives tips on what you can do yourself, and how to involve others in creating opportunities to reach out to those that may
desperately wish to be included, but don’t know how to take that first step themselves.

I’m thrilled that this toolkit has been created here in Reading to enable the wonderful, caring communities and individuals in this town to take real steps in reducing the isolation and loneliness right where we live. This effort truly speaks to each of us that want to engender a society that can enrich the lives of everyone who calls Reading home.

Taken from ‘A Connected Society: a strategy for tackling isolation and loneliness’ and reproduced with permission from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Artist: Zuhura Plummer.

Contents

1. Understanding
• What are loneliness and social isolation?
• How can I tell if someone is lonely?
• How do I start a conversation?
• Talking to people with dementia, autism or a disability
• Research and the strategic context.

2. Taking action
• Things I can do for myself and for others
• Volunteer for a befriending or buddying service
• How I can start something in my neighbourhood?

3. Help and resources
• Finding out what’s on near me
• Help finding what’s right for me
• Help to get online
• Help to get to out and about
• Local support for groups and organisations
• How to publicise my activity or group
• Free or low-cost printing
• Finding funding
• Places to meet
• Networking and collaborating.

4. Showing off!
• How can I demonstrate the impact my group or activity has had?
• Quality awards.

5. Be inspired!
• Films
• Success stories.

6. Further information.
• Acknowledgements
• References and useful websites
• Population-specific resources.

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