Growing up in Reading: Key findings from a report by RVA’s Youth Social Action Team

Article date
24 March 2021
Primary interest
Voluntary sector
Reading Voluntary Action has published the key findings from research into what it’s like to grow up in Reading

The research was shaped and carried out by a Youth Social Action Team supported by RVA and the University of Reading Participation Lab. It was completed before the start of the pandemic, but the pandemic has made the priorities identified by the Youth Social Action Team – especially tackling loneliness among young people and supporting the diverse communities in Reading – even more urgent.

Who took part?

702 young people, aged 11-18 – from across Reading schools, colleges and youth organisations – participated in the research by either completing a questionnaire designed by the Youth Social Action Team or taking part in a focus group.

As a result of the research, the priorities identified by the Youth Social Action Team are:
  • Mental health and wellbeing, especially tackling loneliness
  • Being and feeling safe
  • Creating a sense of community
  • Widening the diversity of activities and opportunities available for young people

Download the report below to read more about the key findings on: voice and self-expression, life satisfaction, the future, challenges and changes needed, community in Reading, and issues important to young people.

Rachel Spencer, RVA Chief Executive, said:

This research has underscored the importance of strengthening the voice and participation of young people in social action, so that they can help shape future services and planning. For any adult involved in the provision of services to young people in the town, the findings may not always make easy reading – but this makes it all the more important for us to pay attention, work together and facilitate change.

In the report, the Youth Social Action Team reflect on the value of conducting the research:

I think I’ve learnt a lot from our research. I’ve learnt about what people from different walks of life and backgrounds feel about this town and the communities within it. For myself, I’ve had to consider several questions about how I really feel about Reading and my experiences as a young person. – Lucy


I particularly appreciated the fact that the Youth Social Action Team were given the freedom to devise the research methods and execute our plan how we saw fit, so that we could fulfil our self-set aims to the best of our ability. – Pradnya


I’ve found the experience rewardingly insightful and eye opening to what else needs to be done to benefit the young community. I see this as the common motivation of every member of the group. – Kalvin


This research project has given me the awareness that it is possible to reach out to a large number of young people. Each individual has a unique and distinctive experience of growing up in Reading and we should be more understanding of their thoughts and emotions. – Zarah

The project coordinator, Charlotte Netherton-Sinclair, said:

This project had the purpose of encouraging young people to speak up and get involved in local initiatives that matter to them. You’ll see quotes in the report that relate to the fact young people feel helpless to initiate change, that there is nowhere or no structure available to them to have their voices heard – so how can they make a difference when no one is listening? It’s up to us as organisations to provide our youth with those support structures and platforms they need in order to speak up and to appreciate the value young people can bring to any conversation – political, social or otherwise. We hope that this research and report is the start of a new wave of youth voice, change, and action in Reading.

Download load a copy of Growing up in Reading by clicking on the image below