• Finding out what’s on near me
• Finding what’s right for me
• Help to use the internet
• Help to get out and about
• Local support services for community groups
• How to publicise my group or activity
• Free or low-cost printing
• Finding funding
• Places to meet
• Networking and collaborating.
Finding out what’s on near me
There is so much going on in Reading! Information is not all in one place, so you may need to try different sources:
• Reading Voluntary Action’s directory lists your local voluntary and community organisations, who will welcome your interest in accessing their services or as a potential volunteer. You will also find up-to-date information on events, training and volunteering opportunities on the RVA website rva.org.uk
• Reading Borough Council’s Reading Services Guide offers information on the council’s own services and well as other community support and activities. Website: servicesguide.reading.gov.uk
• Your local community centre, neighbourhood hub or library are all great sources of information and you don’t need to get online – you can just walk in!
• Reading Neighbourhoods Network publicises news and events in your neighbourhood. Website: rgneighbours.net
• Explorereg.com has reviews of places to eat, visit and enjoy in the town and was set up by Reading local Claire Slobodian “to make it easier to highlight the best of our town for everyone. So that no one has to say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again.”
• Livingreading.co.uk publicises arts, culture and heritage events including festivals and heritage open days.
I need help finding what’s right for me
Local people in Reading’s social prescribing scheme will talk through with you what kinds of support and activity you are looking for – services and activities and how to get to them, if transport is a problem for you.
Ask your GP, social worker or other health professional to refer you to Reading’s Social Prescribing Service.
I need help to use the internet
These days, the most up-to-date information is found online. Get Online Reading helps those who don’t have the skills or opportunity to make use of the internet. It runs free drop-in sessions in several of Reading’s libraries and other community venues all over the town. Ask about it in your local library or ring RVA on 0118 9372273 to find a drop-in session near you – and if you know anyone who would benefit from our help why not suggest that they come along? Website: go-reading.org.
I need help to get there
If you or someone you know aren’t able to get out and about independently, help is at hand:
• Readibus for door-to-door dial-a-ride bus services, a bus-hire service, training, excursions and shopping assistance. Website: readibus.co.uk or phone 0118 931 0000
• Getting Out & About is a short-term service run by Age UK Berkshire to help older people in Reading to discover new pastimes, rekindle old hobbies and find new friends in the local community. Website: ageuk.org.uk/berkshire or phone: 0118 959 4242
• Caversham Good Neighbours provide transport for residents from the Caversham and Emmer Green area (includes Tokers Green). They assist with shopping locally, either with or on behalf of local residents. Also social visits, or regular attendance at disabled centres. They operate Monday to Friday, 9.30am-11.30am. Phone 0118 948 3466
Many organisations have their own minibuses, so it’s worth asking when you contact them.
Local support services for community groups
Sometimes, knowing where to start can feel a bit daunting and you may need a bit of extra support to get going in your neighbourhood or community.
• Reading Voluntary Action is the go-to place for anyone wanting to start up something in their neighbourhood or community. RVA can help you with information, news, legal advice, access to resources, publicity, volunteer recruitment and training. Their Ready Friends Project supports local communities and charities to reduce social isolation and loneliness – and it produced this toolkit! Tel: 0118 937 2273 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or website: rva.org.uk
• Reading Borough Council provides a range of support services to local communities through their Neighbourhood and Adult Social Care Teams. Phone: 0118 937 3787 or website: www.reading.gov.uk
How to publicise my group or activity
You needn’t spend a fortune on flyers, posters and flashy websites. Use social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) and word-of-mouth for free, and if you need to print hard copies ask everyone you know with a printer or access to a photocopier to print off 20 A4 copies for you (that’s 40 A5 flyers if you do two per page!)
Commercial printers tend to be better value for larger quantities (say, 250+ copies) – competitively priced printers that we have used include Instantprint and Saxoprint. Local printers can often be more expensive than the large online printing companies, but it could be worth negotiating! You might, for example, get a good discount for including thew printer’s logo on your flyer.
Invite one of RVA’s Community Journalists along to an event and you could get your group featured in our weekly Digest that reaches hundredss of local groups and individuals. Post information about your forthcoming event or write an article for our weekly Digest and post it here .
Reading Neighbourhood Network has organised a series of workshops on topics such as photography and producing a newsletter. The materials from these can be found at www.rgneighbours.net/grow-your-group.
Find more publicity ideas here: www.admedia.com/free-ways-to-promote-charity-events.php.
RVA’s Knowledgebase has all the information you need to find your first funding for a new group or event through to applying to the larger trusts and funding bodies rva.org.uk/knowledge-base/funding-and-finance/
RVA works in partnership with Reading Borough Council’s Funding Information Service to provide a range of support and advice to community groups and charities seeking to develop a sustainable funding base.
RVA’s role is to help groups to become ‘fit for funding’ with the kind of solid, appropriate governance and planning in place that funders and service commissioners are increasingly looking for. To achieve this, RVA provides:
• a comprehensive Advice Service for charities and groups
• a range of Employment and Management guides and resources
• expertise in policy development appropriate to the needs and ambitions of individual groups
• help with getting signed up for RBC’s monthly Funding Digest or using the online Reading4Community grant-finding service
• regular updates about issues relevant to the voluntary sector and publicising new opportunities in funding, training etc, via News and events pages and RVA Digests, as well as our new Funding Round-up page
• a range of self-help resource documents and links specifically around funding and fundraising issues, which can be found below.
The information published here is for general guidance purposes to help organisations help themselves. Do contact RVA if you require advice on how to use these tools to best effect in your organisation, or to discuss specialised requirements. We will ask you to complete the RVA fundability healthcheck
Contact us on 0118 937 2273 or email email@example.com
RBC Funding Advice Team’s focus is on
• collating information about the range of funding opportunities that exist, whether grants or tendering opportunities for commissioned services
• providing a monthly Funding Digest of the upcoming grants and tendering opportunities to registered subscribers
• hosting the online funding search site Reading 4 Community – find it via the RBC fundraising page
• providing a funding related news feed via RVA’s channels
• offering a service to review draft funding applications and providing confidential, ‘critical friend’ feedback to groups
• The team welcomes direct approaches from groups who are sufficiently developed to be ‘fit for funding’ i.e. they have a basic level of structure and planning in place to fulfil the eligibility requirements of a funder. They encourage groups to use the RVA fundability healthcheck before getting in touch.
Places to meet
Reading has many free and low-cost rooms, halls and other venues for hire, so you won’t necessarily have to dig deep for your first few meetings or events. You can find most of them from this link.
When choosing a venue, consider the following:
• Accessibility for people with mobility needs such as wheelchairs and walking aids.
• Noisy venues can be difficult for people with hearing impairments, dementia or who are autistic
• A venue with its own public liability insurance (so you don’t have to)
• A venue on a bus route.
• A venue that is well-lit and as safe as possible inside and out – especially for any meetings that finish after dark.
Networking and collaborating
Although many community sector organisations compete with other organisations for access to government and private funds, collaboration between organisations can provide important benefits to organisations and their clients or constituents. Working with other organisations, either through informal networks or more formal partnerships can provide:
• greater efficiency and less duplicated effort. For example, a consortia approach to a competitive funding round can deliver integrated service models, achieve broader geographic coverage or reduced costs
• access to additional resources or lower costs through sharing resources such as office space, administration or other aspects of an organisation’s operation
• improved service coordination across agencies, with better pathways or referral systems for service users
• a holistic approach to meeting client needs, with better and more efficient access to the range of services required, improved quality and consistency of service and greater responsiveness to needs
• access to up-to-date information, new ideas and strategic thinking
• additional expertise, support or legal protection for small, new, or struggling organisations.
Over time, the combined benefits of collaboration create new opportunities for partnering with others to build strong, safe, healthy and vital communities and a sustainable future together.
Networks and forums focused on reducing loneliness and social isolation
• In Reading
Ready Friends Befriending Forum (informal) – meets quarterly and is open to anyone from Reading’s community and voluntary sector. Find out more about it from here.
L&SI Steering Group (formal) – meets bi-monthly and is chaired by Reading Borough Council. Membership requests are proposed and agreed by the group. Contact RVA’s Ready Friends Coordinator for more information.
• National networks
Befriending Networks is the umbrella body for befriending services operating across the UK and beyond. They currently have over 250 members, to which they provide a range of services and member benefits.