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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.

Firstly, an ENORMOUS thank you to everyone who has supported Ready Friends over the past year, including its funders - The Earley Charity and Reading Borough Council - and everyone who has contributed to Befriending Forums and all of the other events and projects that have been supporting people facing loneliness and social isolation, against so many odds. I wish you peace, love and joy throughout the festive season and look forward to working with you in 2021.  Rhiannon x

Ready Friends Video 
Ready Friends has launched a video about taking action on loneliness in Reading.  You can watch it on RVA's YouTube channel: 

This video aims to promote simple ways we can connect with others, including people we don’t (yet) know, as we go about our daily lives. A wave, a chat, a smile (or smiley eyes, if you’re wearing a mask!) could make the difference to someone’s day.

Whilst there is a whole spectrum of activities that help people facing loneliness, befriending is one that we are possibly most familiar with. The video highlights some of our local community groups and organisations who are actively recruiting volunteer befrienders – and how to find out more about the various volunteer vacancies across our town.

The Ready Friends video is one of RVA’s contributions to the Winter Wellness campaign, being led by Reading Borough Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Team.  You can find out more about that from the RBC website.

Please share our video through your group’s social media channels and with friends and family. Thank you.
Take care support for ourselves and others
NEW - Infographic with tips for students facing loneliness over the holidays
Click here for the infographic

NEW prospectus from Compass Recovery College
Compass Recovery College continues to run free mental health and wellbeing courses:
  • Mental health courses: designed to help us understand mental health challenges and teach skills for self-management.
  • Lunch and learn wellbeing courses: designed to improve wellbeing and fit in a lunch break too.
  • Creative courses: to explore our creative side through a variety of different art forms.
  • Social Sessions: informal, drop-in sessions to chat about how we are, meet new people or old friends.
NEW microgrants fund - open for applications from 5 January
The Local Connections Fund is a new £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and The National Lottery Community Fund are investing £2 million each.

This will be used to fund hundreds of ‘microgrants’ between £300 and £2,500, so small, local organisations (with an annual income of £50,000 or less) can bring people and communities together.
Click here for the link

The Earley Charity
A small amount of the Earley Charity’s £40,000 Covid-19 Support fund is still available for grants of up to a maximum £2,000.  This small grants programme is to help organisations transition to new ways of working and support post-lockdown relaunch or other Covid-19 linked expenditure.  Click here for more information. 

Children in Need
BBC Children in Need award funding across several programmes.
Click here for more information.



NEW Dementia toolkit - for all communities
A team at Reading University is developing an exciting new toolkit for people living with dementia, which will be customisable.  As well as being available for individual households, they are also keen to make it available for local services to use in memory cafes and other activities for people living with dementia.

The team would like to work with local groups, particularly those working with people from BAME and LGBTQ+ communities, to make sure that this groundbreaking toolkit is as inclusive as possible.

If this sounds like something you are interested in hearing more about and contributing to the development of, please join us at a meeting on 12 January at 2pm on Zoom - please email Rhiannon for the Zoom link at 

RVA is also looking for partner voluntary and community groups to work with towards a project bid for funding to make these toolkits available to services for free.  You can hear more about that on 12 January.

NEW Reading Carers Card
Reading Mencap have produced the Reading Family Carers Card
It’s available to carers for free and identifies someone as a family carer in order to help shorten the time they might have to spend queueing for a shop, a pharmacy or even a health appointment.
Click here for more information
Training, Webinars and Best Practice Updates

Making Every Contact Count – free online training
Making every contact count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that utilises the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations, community groups and the voluntary sector and individuals have with other people to encourage changes in behaviour that have a positive effect on the health and wellbeing of individuals, and communities.

Free online sessions are open to the voluntary and community sector, who have an interest in the health and wellbeing of residents across Reading. The session is 1 ½ hours and is delivered via Microsoft Teams. You will be required to complete a short online module learning ahead of the session.
Click here for more information

Research & Surveys

Call for befriendees aged 18 to 24 to take part in research project
Warda Zeeshan, a Master’s student at the University of Birmingham, is looking for people aged 18 to 24 with experience as a befriendee, to take part in her research exploring the role of befriending services in tackling loneliness and social isolation in young adults. Read more about the study in Warda’s letter to potential participants below and contact Warda if you know of anyone who would like to take part.
Click here for more information

Take care, everyone, Rhiannon
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