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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 regular Ready Friends update.

Report from the Befriending Forum 24 September

Thank you to the 31 people who joined us from across Reading (and from Ankara in Turkey!) last week.  Here's the link to the report from the event and to the presentation slides 

Take care support for ourselves and others

Re-opening of local gardening groups

In and around Reading there are a number of professional groups that can provide opportunities for therapeutic gardening, community gardening, and getting into nature.   The groups are now re-opening their sessions.  Follow this Facebook page to see how nature-based interventions can be considered alongside other types of therapies for people with long-term health conditions, disabilities or mental health support needs.

Welcome to The Lockdown Blues

This is a space for sharing experiences or observations on loneliness and isolation before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown for people living in the South West - and a source of comfort and gentle inspiration for those of us who don’t! If you are an arts organisation interested in hosting a similar initiative for Reading folk, Rhiannon would love to hear from you    


All of these funding streams include mental health and/or wellbeing in their criteria, so may be a source for projects that take action on loneliness and social isolation.

Berkshire Better Health Fund
The Earley Charity Covid-19
Comic Relief Covid-19

Go to the RVA funding pages to see more, including rolling funding rounds.

Training and best-practice updates
Befriending Networks (BN)  
As of October 31st 2020, registration on BN’s website for free access to the Interim Volunteer Training will close. As of November 30th 2020 the videos will be removed from YouTube. 

So what will be new? BN’s volunteer training will now be a toolkit that any membership organisation can dive into and use in-house. Volunteer coordinators and trainers can use this like a resource toolbox, with a range of options to be picked up and used as and when they need it. Inside the toolkit you will find the information available in a number of formats to cater to your needs, such as:
  • Videos
  • MP3s
  • Interactive activities you can run in person
  • Reading materials
  • Presentations you can run in person or by sharing the screen
  • Questionnaires 
Click here to find out more.

UK Youth: #YoungAndBlack events throughout September and October     UK Youth are hosting a series of events throughout September and October as part of their #YoungAndBlack campaign. These events are aimed at exploring aspects of black identity in the UK, focusing on themes such as Black youth loneliness, Black male, female and LGBTQ+ identity, as well as what it means to be Black in rural spaces, the education system and the workplace. To find out more about all of these events, please click here. 

How to communicate better with people with hearing loss.                COVID-19 poses a unique challenge for people when talking to someone with hearing loss. Here are some important tips from Healthwatch to help you communicate effectively.  Click here for more information.
Youth loneliness - Wednesday 7 October
Now in its second year, the Lonely Not Alone (LNA)  campaign is created by young people, for young people.  Last year,  Lonely Not Alone young co-designers asked everyone to wear yellow socks to show they cared about youth loneliness.  This year, they’re continuing the theme but adding a slight twist. And they’d love us to get involved. 

A symbol of solidarity 
Young people are lonely more often than any other age group, but they don’t talk about it because they don’t think other people will understand or be able to help. LNA co-designers say that when they feel this way they keep their heads down because they don’t want to look people in the eye.  But if they see you’re wearing yellow socks, they’ll know you care. 

People from all over the UK got involved in our 2019 campaign.  Find out more from their website orFollow @LonelyNotAlone on Instagram and Twitter to hear first what they have planned! 
Research & Surveys

DCMS has published the Loneliness Monetisation Report which estimates the monetised impacts associated with loneliness stemming from subjective wellbeing, health and productivity.  The report states that the combined wellbeing, health and productivity impacts associated with severe loneliness are estimated to be at least £9,976 per person experiencing severe loneliness per year.  These estimates are calculated using best-practice techniques endorsed by the HM Treasury Green Book.  Click here for the report.

Youth Sport Trust: Evidence Paper: The Impact of Covid-19 Restrictions on Children and Young People Click here for the report.

The Proud Trust on LGBT+ inclusion in youth volunteering and social action as ways to address loneliness. Click here for the report.

More in Common’s The New Normal?  is a new 7-country report drawing from a survey of 14,000 people on the impacts of COVID-19 on trust, social cohesion, democracy and expectations for an uncertain future in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Poland.  Click here for the report.
Key findings include the following:

  • The pandemic has created a new sense of togetherness, making us more aware of our shared humanity and of the living conditions of others. At the same time, many worry about their societies becoming more divided in the future.
  • Many feel that Covid-19 has changed us into more caring societies.
  • Disengaged populations or those in ‘Invisibles’ segments have felt more isolation, loneliness and lack of support throughout Covid-19. This is an early warning signal about the vulnerabilities that populists might exploit as the economic crisis deepens.
  • The pandemic has revived a spirit of localism, with greater pride in local communities and less erosion of trust in local governments.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration are examining the legacy and lessons of the COVID-19 crisis in relation to social connection and integration, with a particular focus on volunteering and business. MPs are due to consider the role of volunteering during COVID-19 and how this can be sustained in the longer term, as well as looking at how volunteer recruitment and deployment was coordinated during the crisis. They will also examine best practice in the use of volunteering to promote social connection and ask what policy changes would encourage volunteering, including among groups who are less likely to take part. Click here for the report.

Resources and ideas for befrienders and their befriendees

National Befriending Week 1-7 November
The effects of loneliness and the importance of connection and kindness have never been so present in the news and in the public eye. This combined with the amazing dedication befriending organisations and their volunteers have demonstrated since the pandemic began, makes Befriending Week 2020 even more significant. Make sure you are prepared, check out the Befriending Week Resource Pack which has lots of tools, ideas and inspiration to help your organisation get involved in Befriending Week.

Free “Thank You” cards for your volunteers
As part of National Befriending Week, RVA’s Ready Friends project is producing a stock of Thank You cards for Reading community groups to send to any of their wonderful volunteers who are taking action on loneliness and social isolation - such as befrienders, community drivers, check-in-and-chat volunteers.  If you would like us to send you a free batch of these cards for you to send out to your volunteers (maximum of 20 per group) please email Rhiannon at     

Articles Webinars & Podcasts

(CNN) Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has opened up about his mental health struggles, admitting he has "a lot of difficult days" and suffers from loneliness on the tour.
Click here for the article.

(Telegraph) The psychology of small acts of kindness – and why they now play a big role in our lives  Has Covid finally taught us to be kind? Sarah Ebner describes how the pandemic is reshaping the way we show we care.  Click here for the article.

(Yorkshire Post) Let’s talk and build bridges of unity – together. “We saw during lockdown how people came together to celebrate and thank our front-line workers – crossing otherwise powerful fault lines and encouraging people to make common cause in a common ritual of gratitude.” Click here for the article.

(The Guardian) It gets into your bones Residents in Melbourne, Australia, are facing some of the strictest lockdown rules in the world. ': the unique loneliness of coronavirus lockdown when you live alone.  Click here for the article.

Take care, everyone, Rhiannon
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