RVA highlights of 2019

Primary interest
Voluntary sector
It’s been busier than ever for RVA this year. As 2019 draws to a close, we reflect on some of the highlights…
5: Community Place

Earlier in the year, the third floor of Central Library became Community Place, complete with its own cat. We want Community Place to be the centre for social action in Reading, empowering individuals and organisations to create sustainable change for the town. As we develop Community Place as a partnership space, we are particularly grateful to our team of volunteer receptionists – Fabienne, Judy, Rachel, Sue and David – who between them have transformed the experience of arriving on the third floor, by providing a warm welcome and helping people get to the organisations and information that they need.

4: Ready Friends Toolkit

In May, Ready Friends launched a Toolkit (in print, online, and as an interactive PDF), where you will find all you need to reduce loneliness and social isolation in your street, community, and for family and friends. In addition to local media attention, the Toolkit has attracted national coverage through Befriending Networks and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. This led to an approach by Leicestershire County Council and the Leicestershire and Rutland Rural Community Council to adopt and localise it in their areas, and by a north London CVS. We have also received a request to use it as a template from a Community Services Manager in New Zealand!

3: Work with children, young people and families

This summer, RVA coordinated a Reading Youth Summer Activities programme for three weeks, across South, West, Central and East Reading. Events were aimed at 10-14-year olds and were all completely free. RVA worked with Sports Xtra, Reside Dance, Real Time Video, Reading Refocus, The Rock Academy, Reading FC’s Community Trust Kicks, Lamda Drama/Rediculture One30 and fitness volunteer Eugenie Rotjes Nicholls to provide young people with free activities that they could engage in, learning new skills and having fun along the way. The events were a huge success, with over 100 different children attending 350 sessions across the different venues and activities.

In November, we helped to host the One Reading Conference, and we continue to work with schools in Whitley, signposting parents and guardians to help and support from the voluntary and community sector. This winter, RVA’s Social Action Youth Leaders are carrying out research into young people’s experiences of growing up in Reading – find out more and get involved here.

2: Trustees’ Week

Trustees’ Week is an annual occasion to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference. This year we made a film with Lina Johansson, a trustee at The Rising Sun Arts Centre, a local art charity in Reading. In the video Lina talks about how she got involved, transferable skills, the challenges faced and why she loves being a trustee there. We also tweeted throughout the week @rva_news, sharing advice and tips from trustees of local charities.

1: Celebrating volunteers across Reading

This year has seen a number of celebrations to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution that volunteers make to life in Reading. The third annual Reading Volunteer Awards took place in June at a drinks reception on the fourteenth floor of Thames Tower. We also held an exhibition in the Holybrook Gallery. November saw a partnership event at the Crowne Plaza with a focus on friendship volunteering.

A particular highlight for the RVA team was to hear one of our own volunteers, Tyler Clapham, speak eloquently and movingly about his volunteering story – to a packed house at the RVA AGM. Tyler talked about the positive and transformative effect that volunteering has had on his life. Initially sceptical about the benefits, Tyler has found that volunteering has opened up a number of opportunities for self-development and pursuing his interests. His talk made us feel all the more motivated for the work ahead in 2020!

Thanks to Tyler, to all of RVA’s volunteers, and volunteers across the town – you are making such a difference to life in Reading! Find out more about volunteering opportunities.