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Join our Citizens' Panel to share your views on issues and services.

Our Mayor

Councillor Debs Edwards was elected Mayor in May 2018.

I first moved to Whitley Wood, Reading in 1968 when my father came out of the RAF. I attended 13 schools and colleges before I was 18. I was a Forces child so we moved around very frequently. I returned to Reading with my family in 1981. I have 5 children and am a grandmother of 10. My husband, Alun, and I also sponsor a child in Honduras. 

I have been Labour Southcote Councillor since 2006 and was re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016. I was honoured to be the Worshipful Mayor of Reading for the 2011/2012 term. 

Since I was 15, I have worked not only in the community sector but also in the public and private sector. I have worked in a number and variety of jobs - kennel maid, shop worker, PA, waitress, welder, civil servant, finance and network manager - with lots of other jobs in between these experiences. All of this has given me a lot of working and life experiences.

As a Councillor, I am currently serving on the Licensing Applications Committee and Sub-committees, Fostering Panel, Standards Committee, the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub-committee, Secure Accommodation and the Appeals Pool. These all cover my areas of interest and expertise.

Since living in Reading, I have also held a number of voluntary community posts, the most recent being: 

  • School governor for Phoenix College, Manor Primary School and, until recently, Southcote Primary school.
  • Chair of SITE (Southcote IT Experience), an award winning UK Online community project. I have written courses and trained local people in IT skills. 
  • Member of the Patient Participation Group, Circuit Lane Surgery, Southcote.
  • Member of the Southcote Community Association. 
  • Governor of the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospital NHS Trust until 2010 .

I run my own book-keeping business dealing with small business accounts and am an Independent Examiner of accounts for charitable bodies. I raise funds for charities. I have a passionate interest in life-long learning and personal development for all. In my free time, I swim, walk, am an avid reader of detective novels and do crosswords to relax. 

Responsibilities

The Mayor represents the council at events, welcoming guests and visiting local organisations. She also chairs full council meetings. The Deputy Mayor may stand in if the Mayor is not available.

Invite the Mayor to an event

Contact the Mayor's secretary with the date of your event. If there is a space in the Mayor's diary, you can invite her to your event

Charities

The Mayor's chosen charities are BWA, Launchpad, Berkshire West Your Way and YMCA.

BWA

Berkshire Womens Aid provides confidential support, information, outreach services and refuge accommodation for victims of domestic abuse and violence, and their children. BWA has operated in Reading since 1975. The need for their services is as great as ever as at least 1 in 4 women in the UK will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. In 2012/13 BWA's 24hr helpline (0118 950 4003) received 6,312 calls and an additional 4,000 plus referrals were made directly to BWA's outreach services.
BWA aims to develop the ability and confidence of children and young people to overcome their experience of abusive relationships and to understand what healthy and respectful relationships look like. BWA also raises awareness and understanding of domestic abuse & violence and lobbies statutory and other organisations.

BWA works throughout Bracknell, Reading and Wokingham, and is affiliated to the Women's Aid Federation of England (WAFE). It has nine refuges which provide a breathing space where decisions can be made free from pressure or fear. People go to refuge when they are in crisis. BWA helps begin the process of rebuilding damaged lives. They don't judge, they listen.

Launchpad

Launchpad is a charity that helps some of Reading's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people to turn their lives around and fulfil their potential. It provides three services to prevent homelessness in Reading:

  • Housing with support. Launchpad can house 140 people and, with individual targeted support, they help people get their lives back on track. Last year they housed and helped 177 people providing over 10,700 hours of support.
  • Preventing homelessness. Their Floating Support service is for anyone in unsuitable accommodation or at risk of becoming homeless, supporting over 400 Reading people a year, 25% of whom are vulnerable families.
  • Drop-in. The Launchpad Drop-in service is for anyone in Reading who needs housing or homelessness related advice. They can help prevent a problem becoming a crisis. Last year over 700 people went to the drop-in for advice, guidance and support.

Berkshire West Your Way

Berkshire West Your Way (formerly known as Reading Your Way) works alongside individuals in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire who are experiencing mental health issues, supporting them to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. This can include:

  • Managing mental health
  • Entering education
  • Returning to work
  • Finding new hobbies and social activities
  • Solving housing issues
  • Making friends
  • Organising finances

Berkshire West Your Way offers one-to-one support, social groups and peer support to help people build resources that help them stay well, their way. Individuals lead their own journey to wellbeing and are experts in their own recovery.

YMCA

The YMCA is the largest and the oldest charity working with young people in the world. YMCA Reading was formed in 1847 and since its very beginnings has worked with young men and women in need. Our YMCA is a thriving and active community. A community that is transforming lives. They focus on young people and help them play an active and fulfilling role within our community. 

Alongside residential supported accommodation for 40 young people, they offer a wide range of services and activities, including:

  • Woodwork sessions in their workshop for residents and also pupils in years 6-11 from local schools at risk of exclusion or who have been excluded.
  • Weekly sports and leisure activities such as football, basketball, archery, boxing, judo and dance club.  Their football team plays at quite a good level!
  • Summer youth activity programme.  Previous years activities have included: paint balling, rock-climbing, ice-skating, an Eid and Henna party, land yachting, a talk about moving-on, sexual health drop-in, cooking classes, film-making, street dance sessions, pampering sessions, DVD nights, graffiti workshop, football, music studio sessions, X-Box competition, table tennis competition and cinema/theatre trips.
  • Regular arts and crafts activities.
  • Support to residents to engage them in volunteering opportunities, training, education, and employment.
  • Special events such as Black History Month celebrations.
  • IT Suite available for resident and community use.  
  • Running a community cafe (Parkside Cafe) which provides training opportunities for young people and a space for the community to come together.
  • Hosting Pine Cones and Fir Tree older peoples groups.
  • Hosting and supporting 1st Reading YMCA Sea Scouts group.
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