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Ready Friends News
Hi all, I hope you and your loved ones are all keeping safe and well. Welcome to your fortnightly Ready Friends update.

The future of temporary befriending services in Reading  

Organisations everywhere are busy planning ahead for the various scenarios around lockdown easing, new lockdowns and a post-Covid world.  Lots of VCOs transitioned their services to online and telephone, and many set up completely new distance befriending services.  Whilst many of us want to ‘get back to normal’ and reconvene the kinds of services that we provided before March, the demand for distance befriending will remain high for sometime - and some people will simply want to continue having that kind of service.

Covid-19 has identified many gaps in provision and in Reading, one need that was already on our radar pre-Covid, was befriending and other 1-2-1 support for people facing loneliness and social isolation under the age of 55 and who don’t speak English.

If your group is thinking of reducing its befriending offer because you don’t have the resources (e.g. volunteers, cash, management time) to run it alongside your ‘normal’ services, please get in touch with Rhiannon at Ready Friends, so RVA can update its ‘local VCS offer’ information but, more importantly, we can look at ways to support the continuation of your service. 

September Befriending Forum
The next Ready Friends Befriending Forum will be on Thursday 24 September 1-2.30, again on  Zoom.  Keep your diary free, and put the kettle on.

We will we looking at how to get information about activities, events and other support if you are facing loneliness in Reading but don't speak English, read in your own language or use the internet.

An invitation and the Zoom link will be coming your way soon.
Take care support for ourselves and others


Sport in Mind is offering 2 activities in Reading, open to anyone over 18 experiencing mental health issues, from next week. They are very pleased to be able to start up some sessions again and know they have been missed by many of the participants, coaches and volunteers. Times are different at the moment and so they are starting cautiously with only focusing on outdoor activities for the time being, where they can maintain social distancing and they have put detailed risk assessments in place to make sure they can keep everyone as safe as possible.
Session: Walk
Day and Time: Mondays 11-12pm (Starting 3rd August)
Location: Prospect Park, Reading
Session: Outdoor Tai Chi
Day: Tuesdays 3-4pm ( Starting 4th August)
Location: Prospect  Park, Reading

Local support for individuals and families
Just a reminder about RVA’s resources page for individuals and families that gets updated regularly: Coronavirus Community Action
Charity Survival Fund – applications open until 27 July
The one-off £10 million Charity Survival Fund has been set up by The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust in response to their ongoing concern about the economic impact of Covid-19 on the nation’s charities. The grant funding aims to help small and medium-sized UK registered charities who are struggling with a loss of income in the current financial year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More info from here:

RVA's Funding opportunities round-up - click here for the latest funding opportunities
Befriending Networks UK
BN is offering a range of training opportunities for staff and volunteers, between now and October, addressing such issues as 
- mental health
- bereavement
- safeguarding
- dementia
- leadership
You can find out more from this link:

BNUK also offers bespoke training to individual groups and partnerships, so please talk to Rhiannon if you are interested in finding out more about this.
Research & Surveys

Children and Young People
Over the past few months, UK Youth came together with experts across multiple different sectors to discuss the impact of covid-19 on young people and reimagine financial futures, health and wellbeing, digital lifestyles, safer communities and racial inequalities. Over 700 participants joined the conversation, listening to young peoples experiences and committed to supporting young people to reimagine their futures - with loneliness and isolation being a common thread.  Over 120 young people participated in this series, illustrating these conversations and submitting questions. You can rewatch the re -imagine series here: 

Mental Health Emergency - especially for children and young people
New research from Mind, ‘The Mental Health Emergency’, has highlighted the impacts of Covid on our mental health. The study found loneliness to be a key contributor to poor mental health, with two thirds of people’s mental health getting worse in recent weeks, and 18-24 year olds the most impacted group. Click here for the study:

A National Mourning
According to national research, approximately 9.7 million mourners have been denied the chance to say their last goodbye at a loved one’s funeral during the lockdown.

Whilst restrictions are beginning to ease and many funeral traditions are possible again, during the lockdown sadly an estimated 243,000 bereaved families have been denied the right to say goodbye to their loved one in the way they would have wished.

Undeniably, funerals play an essential role in the grieving process, and we don’t yet know what the long-term psychological effects will be for individuals and families who haven’t been able to say a last goodbye.

Our Nation in Mourning, a report from Coop Funeral Care, provides further details on the impact coronavirus has had on our ability to grieve along with practical advice from Cruse and Mind about how to seek further support.  Click on this link for more information and the report..

Resources and ideas for befrienders and their befriendees

The Reading Agency’s Reading Friends (rather disappointingly, not based in Reading!) have published Personal History and Reminiscence, a pack to help get everyone chatting using history and reminiscence as a starting point for conversation. 

A Hello from the Outer Hebrides!
Befriending Lewis & Harris, Volunteering Hebrides is launching The Befriending Arts Project, based in the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  

Click here for flyer
Click here for poster

It's a 'UK Wide Creative Postcard Exchange Project' and they are keen for other community organisations who are taking action on loneliness and isolation to get involved.   "In our island location," says Elaine Murray, Project Coordinator "it is often difficult to feel connected to the rest of the world and so we feel by helping people to reach to out to those elsewhere, who are perhaps dealing with similar feelings but in a different location, that this could go a little way to helping them to feel a part of something bigger.  We hope it will be a fun activity to do safely from home and provide a way to share each other's creativity."
The project is cost free and they will also maintain complete confidentiality of all participants throughout.   Below are the steps needed to get started.
Step 1 - Let them know you are interested by contacting Elaine:
Step 2 - They will send you a pack of 10 x completed art postcards from participants  in the Hebrides, all ready to post in individual envelopes with instructions, blank postcards and a pre-stamped/addressed return envelope.
Step 3 - Select members or clients you think would like to participate, add their address to the envelope and send it out!

If you'd prefer your participants to return the postcards via your organisation first e.g. if you wanted to make sure they didn't add their personal information on the postcard, then Elaine and her team could alternatively include a large pre-stamped/addressed envelope to return all 10 postcards to her, along with 10 envelopes to your participants pre-stamped and instead with your address. They cover all postage and printing costs but you are welcome to print the attachments if you need to.
All the artwork will be recorded digitally for reprinting as part of a colourful exhibition as well as being recorded on social media throughout.

Articles & Podcasts

Community Connectors in Gloucestershire
Martin Simon from the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, explores the concept of neighbourhood connectors, small teams that can positively re-enforce collective acts of caring wherever they are to be found.

Take care, everyone, Rhiannon
Ready Friends Toolkit
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