Stay well and warm in winter

Winter Wellbeing Campaign

Be Healthy

Get Active

Stay Safe

Get Connected

Be Warm

Mental Health

Help Others

Stay Well in Reading this Winter

Winter Wellbeing campaign

With the cold winter nights now drawing in and as we enter another national lockdown, we are encouraging everyone to take a number of steps to stay well over the winter period.

We know that the coming weeks will be a difficult time for many of us in our town.  Winter can increase isolation, loneliness and causes financial hardship for many people worried about paying increased heating bills. This year we face the extra challenges presented by Covid-19 – from how and when do we access medical care – to how can we help ourselves to mentally cope, care for others and still feel connected to others.

The latest data from ONS
on the impact of Covid-19 on life and wellbeing, suggests people feel significantly less happy and more anxious than before the pandemic.  One of the reasons why it is so important for us to focus on ways to combat isolation, stress and anxiety.

Working closely alongside our partners in the local NHS, Royal Berkshire Hospital and partners in the voluntary sector, we are calling on people to look after themselves and look out for others – we’ll be providing advice on how to spot and support people who may be struggling and where you can go for help and support – for example, if you know an elderly neighbour is finding it hard to keep their house warm, or a friend is finding it hard to cope with the stress of a second lockdown.

Over the next seven weeks we will focus on a number of wellbeing topics – starting with important messages around flu vaccinations, when you should call 999/111 and where to a seek medical help and advice.

The campaign will be underpinned by the principles of the ‘5 ways to Wellbeingconnect with other people; be physically active; learn new skills; give to others and pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness).

You can also follow this campaign on our social media channels @ReadingCouncil Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and by signing up to our newsletters.

Be Healthy and Stay Well in Reading

Be healthy and stay well in Reading

Watch Dom Hardy, Chief Operating Officer and his colleagues at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, sharing important messages including:

  • The hospital is open for booked appointments – so please do attend your tests, scans or check-ups. Many people are worried about being a burden to the health service or getting Covid19 and are leaving it longer than usual to get health advice. A number of serious conditions are easier to treat if caught early enough.
  • The hospital is safe to visit if you have an appointment – there are a number of measures in place, including use of masks, social distancing, regular deep cleaning and hand sanitiser stations all over the building.
  • Please attend on your own if you can and arrive just before your appointment time (partners can join you for maternity scans and labour).
  • Please be aware the hospital needs to limit visitor numbers to help keep everyone as safe as possible. Please check the hospital website for the latest information around visiting.
  • If you are having a life-threatening problem such as chest pains, breathing difficulties or the symptoms of a stroke, call 999 and come to the Emergency Department immediately. If you feel more generally unwell are unsure what to do, contact your GP surgery or call 111 for advice.
  • The hospital is here to help you – but they need you to help yourself too. Look after your own health and help ease the pressure on the front line – this includes getting your flu jab. Contact your GP surgery if you fall into any of the vulnerable categories.
  • Please follow the government Covid safety guidelines, especially around hands, face, space – protect yourself and others and keep the NHS safe.

Get Active and Stay Well in Reading

Get Active and Stay Well in Reading

This week our focus is on getting active. The importance of keeping active cannot be understated – even just 20 minutes a day can really make a difference. Not only will it improve your overall physical fitness – it gives your immune system a boost and lifts your mood, as well as improving your overall health. In these stressful and challenging times, physical activity can also significantly help you maintain positive mental health.

Isolating and keeping active

With many people needing to isolate at home, it is still important to keep active even if you can’t go outside to take exercise (other than in your private garden). It can feel a bit of a challenge to get active inside but there are still plenty of ways you can build movement and exercise into your day when you are at home.

If you are isolating at home with the kids, and you are all well enough, here are some great free ideas for getting everybody active inside:

Get active safely

If you are older or living with a long-term health condition, it is important to try and stay as active as possible. If you can, why not try a gentle walk in your area or in one of Reading’s parks and open spaces.

Jogging safely in winter

Jogging or brisk walking is a great way to stay active. Dark, cold, windy, wet… getting out for a walk or a jog can be difficult in winter! Here are some tips to help you stay safe and motivated.

Alcohol awareness

This week (16-21 Nov) is also Alcohol awareness week, so we’ve included some support and advice on cutting down your alcohol intake to improve your wellbeing.

  • Drinking alcohol might help you to relax and switch off, especially during lockdown, but drinking more than 14 units a week can negatively affect your health. Use this handy unit calculator to find out how much you’re drinking and follow these top tips for cutting down.
  • If you are using alcohol as a way to handle stress or anxiety, why not try other ways to relax when you are feeling anxious such as yoga or meditation? If you are suffering with anxiety or depression, Compass Recovery College is a great source of help and advice.
  • If you are worried about your own or someone else’s alcohol use, talk to your GP or contact Change Grow Live, Reading’s drug and alcohol service. They can offer support if you or someone you know is struggling: Visit the Change Grow Live website or call 01189 557333.

Maintaining a healthy weight

As well as getting active, thinking about what you are eating and making a change to a healthier diet can also make a big difference to your wellbeing. Even small changes can make a big difference.

Top tips include:

  • Get more higher fibre starchy carbohydrates into your diet. This includes wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on.
  • Eat lots of fruit and veg – aim to eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.
  • Eat more fish: including a portion of oily fish like salmon and sardines
  • Cut down on saturated fat and sugar: Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Cut down on the amount of salt you eat: no more than 6g a day for adults – that’s around 1 teaspoon. This can be hard when a lot of salt is hidden in processed foods. Try to check the amount on the packaging.
  • Drink plenty of water: Cut down on the amount of sugary, fizzy drinks and caffeine

For more information visit

The Eatwell Guide from the NHS has useful information on achieving a healthy balanced diet. The website includes lots of recipes and food tips. 

If you are on a tight budget, there are still easy ways to eat healthily:

Change4Life, the government service aimed at helping families be healthier and happier, has lots of quick and easy family meals and meal planning ideas.

Be brave, speak up

Domestic violence affects all classes, race, religion, disabled, young, old, LGBTQ+, women, men and children and comes in many forms; physical, sexual, psychological, financial, violent, intimidation and coercive control.

We should all live free from the fear of domestic abuse.

Many people are currently forced indoors with lockdown, with an abusive partner or family member and need a ‘safe haven’ where they can collect their thoughts and get support. Sometimes getting out of that bubble of abuse can help you realise there is help out there for you and your family.

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic abuse or if you’re worried about a friend or family member, Boots, Superdrug pharmacies, Morrisons pharmacies and other independent chemists have safe spaces – their consulting rooms are there for you and you’ll find specialist domestic abuse support.

In the consulting room you can safely explore your options without fear of being caught. Find out more about safe spaces

  • Make a call to the 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247 or call the Men’s Advice Line 0808 8010 327
  • Get information about the free app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone in an abusive relationship or if you’re concerned about someone

An abuser wouldn’t think their victim could access help at the local pharmacy.

Berkshire Women’s Aid for women, children and men

Our local charity Berkshire Women’s Aid provide confidential support, information and refuge accommodation. For help or if you’re worried about someone ring 0118 950 4003, leave a message with a safe time to call back if they are on another call. You can also contact Berkshire Women’s Aid on Facebook messenger or email Remember keep yourself safe and let them know how and when to contact you.

Here is more information on how to make a silent 999 call when it’s not safe to speak—999-and-55/

If you’re worried about a child or young person being abused or neglected. Please don’t stay silent.

Help keep our local children and young people safe. If you’re worried about a child being abused or neglected or not sure if it’s abuse, please don’t stay silent, be brave speak up on behalf of a child.

To raise a concern about a child in Reading contact Brighter Futures For Children, call: 0118 937 3641 or email

160,000 children in England are affected by domestic violence and we know it’s a hard thing to talk about. PC Massie from Thames Valley Police shares helpful advice and reminds young people they won’t get into trouble if they call 999, if someone is getting hurt. Watch and share the video .

People of any age can be affected by domestic abuse

Older people can be particularly vulnerable to certain forms of domestic abuse, including abuse by a carer and financial abuse.

When the people you most depend on for care control or abuse you, it can seem like there is no way out. Older people can face significant barriers in leaving abusive situations and may have been subject to years of abuse, and experience long term health conditions or disabilities, or rely on their abuser for their care or money.

The situation facing older victims has deteriorated significantly due to Coronavirus and lockdown. Many older victims will have faced an impossibly cruel situation in which they were afraid to go out for fear of contracting a life-threatening illness, and afraid to stay in for fear of being abused at home.

Age UK are there for you and for you if you are worried about an older person. Their Advice Line telephone number is 0800 678 1602, and is free to call and open 8am to 7pm 365 days a year.

What are the signs of domestic violence?

Here are some signs that may indicate you or someone you care about is being abused:

  • withdrawn, or isolated from family and friends
  • bruises, burns or bite marks
  • finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food or pay bills
  • not allowed to leave the house, or stopped from going to college or work
  • having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails or letters
  • repeatedly belittled, put down or told you are worthless
  • pressured into sex
  • told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting

But can I leave my home during lockdown?


Lockdown or household isolation does not apply if you need to leave you home to escape domestic abuse. Please be brave. Make the one small step of finding out your options in a safe space, see the information above, go to your local chemist and ask for their ‘Safe Space’ consulting room. Find out what your options are and what help there is for you and your family.

Berkshire Women’s Aid are here for you, call 0118 950 4003, leave a message with a safe time to call back if they are on another call. Remember cover your tracks, delete sent messages, call history or internet browsing history if your phone or computer is being checked.

Get connected and stay well in Reading

Get Connected

Meet Nisa

Nisa wants to hear from the communities of Reading and in particular those residents who aren’t accessing our information and services around COVID-19, where for example residents don’t speak English as their first language. How best can we help you, reach you and communicate important health and wellbeing information? Nisa is our COVID-19 Communication, Engagement and Outreach Officer, if someone you know could benefit please get in touch and let Nisa know how we can help, email or call 07815 9790 354.

Free Taster Workshops; create something beautiful or learn new digital skills

New Directions College have been busy designing FREE, 1 hour taster workshops. You can either watch and try later or work along with tutors to create something beautiful or learn new digital skills.

Arts & Crafts and Ceramics workshops have been designed for the festive season and all workshops are perfect for complete beginners or those with some experience.

Find out more about or enrol for a workshop.

Instantly access over 150 magazines and thousands of audio and eBooks or are you unable to visit the library?

Reading Library, their digital library offers free instant access to over 150 magazines, thousands of new eBooks to read and audiobooks to download. This can help save you money, read something different, as well as helping to relax.

Download the apps and set up accounts. Get a library membership online and get instant access.

Get Connected. Did you know Reading Library run a home service for people who are unable to visit? Contact the team on 0118 901 5118 to find out more and please let with anyone you know who would benefit from this service.

Meet Nina

Nina, from our Public Health and Wellbeing team reminds us about the One Reading Community Hub – which can help you if you’re struggling to cope during COVID and can help with urgent food and prescription needs, getting a priority supermarket delivery slot, and other issues including debt, loneliness, stress and anxiety. Find out more about available support or call 0808 189 4325.

Nina in her video tells you how you can join our forums, have your voice heard and learn about local services that support carers, older people and people with a long term health condition. Subscribe to the forums or the Wellbeing newsletter by emailing or call on 07811 026070.

The Reading Services Guide is your local directory for care, family and special educational needs and disabilities.

Be warm and stay well in Reading

Be Warm

Staying warm is so important for our wellbeing especially during the colder months, below we hope you’ll find a variety of useful information on the support available, including:

  • Benefits
  • Shopping and food
  • Winter Watch fuel energy advice
  • Grants for white goods and furniture
  • Carers allowances and The Reading Family Carers Card
  • Savings on fuel costs from £28 to £300


If you need help understanding benefits CommuniCare can help you over the phone, in person or on email. CommuniCare support Reading people by offering information, advice and support – they work with people not issues.

Call 0118 9263941


Find out more on the CommuniCare website.

For help with; Universal Credit, Attendance Allowance, Bereavement Support Payment, Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Credit, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Help with your essential shopping needs

If you know someone who needs help with their basic shopping needs Age UK Berkshire can help anyone struggling

Call 0118 959 4242


Find out more about Age UK Easy Shop .

Are you unable to afford food for you or your family?

Asking for help is being in control. Food parcels and hot meals are available.

Winter Watch

Are you on a low income, over 60, have young children, disability or health concern, struggling financially or unable to live independently?

Reading Borough Council’s Winter Watch Fuel Energy Advisor can helps you stay safe and warm during the coldest parts of the year. The scheme is for council, private, owner occupiers and housing association residents in Reading.

Call 0118 937 3747 for help with energy suppliers, cheaper tariffs, smart metres, DIY draught proofing to help reduce heat loss, help setting timers and night storage heaters and lots more.

Find out more about Winter Watch.

White goods and furniture, grants available

Did you know there are grants available to help you purchase white goods and furniture?

You can easily search for the grants available at TURN2US.

And Christian Community Action help local residents who are in need of support, emergency furniture and starter packs. Email or call 0118 9512 337.

Are you caring for a family member or friend?

Many people are family carers and support someone who relies on them to collect shopping, prescriptions and other essential items. You may not identify yourself as a carer because you’re firstly a parent, a wife, husband, daughter, son, grandchild, friend or neighbour.

Reading Mencap have produced The Reading Family Carers Card, supported by Reading Borough Council. It’s available to carers for FREE and it will identify you as a family carer and help shorten the time you might have to spend queuing in a shop, pharmacy or even a health appointment.

Find out how to get the card and please share with anyone who it would be helpful for:

If you care for someone at least 35 hours a week, find out about Carer’s Allowance  embed link in copy

If you care for someone at least 20 hours a week find out about Carer’s Credit.

If you’re struggling with your caring responsibilities or want to find out about the support or benefits you’re entitled to, TuVida  are there for you. Please call them on 0118 324 7333 or email:  

Savings on fuel costs from £28 to £300

You could save hundreds of pounds on your fuel costs. Below are a number of payment and voucher schemes; check the criteria to find out if you’re eligible:

  • Winter Fuel Payment £100 to £300. If you were born on or before 5 October 1954 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills, if you receive certain benefits or a state pension you should get a Winter Fuel Payment to help pay for heating during winter. Call the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 0800 731 0160. Textphone 0800 731 0464.
  • Cold Weather Payment. If the temperature falls below zero for 7 days or more in a row between 1 November and 31 March you could be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment. If you are on a low income and receive certain benefits you may be entitled. If you qualify you should get this payment automatically. Call Job Centre Plus for further info: 0800 169 0190 / Textphone: 0800 169 0314
  • Warm Home Discount. A one-off discount of £140 off your winter electricity bill between September and March. The discount is taken off your electricity bill between September and March. 

For further queries call 0800 731 0214. You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill, rather than your electricity bill if your supplier provides both your gas and electricity, contact your supplier to find out more.

  • Cheapest tariff for gas and electricity. If you receive disability allowances, benefits or tax credits you may qualify for your energy supplier’s Social Tariff –  their cheapest tariff for gas and electricity. Get in touch with your energy supplier to find out more.
Look after your mental health and stay well in Reading

Mental Health

Good mental health helps us relax, achieve more and enjoy our lives more.

There’s lots of information below to support you if you need help managing stress, anxiety, boosting your mood and helping you sleep. You could try managing your mood with food and find out if alcohol could be affecting your mental health long-term, there’s also support for young people, carers and if you’ve been affected by suicide.

Mark from Compass Recovery College in his video talks about his personal mental health experience and how Compass Recovery College help. And local residents Darren and his 14 year old son Jay tell us what a difference getting out in the fresh air made to their relationship and wellbeing, it’s a heart-warming watch.

Take the quiz

Take the NHS quiz and get a personalised plan to help with your wellbeing, answer just 5 quick questions to get your free plan to help you deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.

NHS Every Mind Matters Quiz

Manage your mood with food!

Did you know improving your diet may help:

  • improve your mood
  • give you more energy
  • help you think more clearly

MIND have tips on how to manage your mood with food.

5 steps to wellbeing

There is evidence that there are just 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing; good relationships, getting active, new skills, kindness and being in the moment. Try them! They could help you feel more positive and get the most out of life

5 steps to wellbeing

Meet Mark

Mark shares his very real life experience of mental health; from homelessness, losing his job, hearing voices, ending up in hospital, to where he is today and his coping strategies. A powerful watch and we’re grateful to Mark for sharing his story.

Alcohol might have a short-term positive impact on your mood – but what about long term?

Spotting the signs alcohol might be affecting your mental health is an important first step towards understanding your drinking. If you’re worried or would like to find out more contact Change Grow Live Reading.

Darren and Jay started running during the first lockdown, find out what a difference it made to their relationship and wellbeing

Dad and son were always close but spending time together outside in the fresh air, they talked about things they wouldn’t talk about at home and it made them closer. 14 year old Jay had never run before and Darren unable to play football or golf needed to keep fit. Watch their video to hear their heart-warming story.

Support for young people

2020 hasn’t been easy, and many of us are feeling uncertain or anxious. Taking time for self-care is massively important, especially now. Check out the NHS videos for tips for young people on exercise, sleep and how to take care of yourself on social media.

NHS Every Mind Matters Support for Young People

And free, confidential online counselling is available every day of the year from Kooth if you’re aged 11 to 18.

Counsellors available:

  • Monday to Friday: 12noon to 10pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 6pm to 10 pm at weekends

You may not think of yourself as a carer

You may not think of yourself as a carer but if you have a family member, neighbour or friend who is dependent on you. You may be providing a range of support, including emotional support, going to appointments or cooking and cleaning. It can be physically and emotionally tiring and it’s important to look after your own wellbeing. Mobilise is a community of people helping each other look after someone they love.

MYTH Talking about suicide can make things worse

Thinking about what to say to someone who might be having suicidal thoughts, or who has been bereaved by suicide, feels difficult and scary. You don’t need to have all the answers, all you need is empathy, kindness and an understanding of what help is available.

There is a myth that talking about suicide can make things worse. The evidence is that this is not true. By offering a listening ear you will be helping to reduce someone’s distress, not making things worse – encouraging someone to open up can help them to get support sooner.

Here, we hope are some useful resources:

Coffee and chat, walk and talk, gardening, mental health courses and lots more

Recovery from mental health challenges is both likely and possible with the right tools. 

Compass Recovery College provide free courses and social groups for anyone in the area aged 18 or over who may be affected directly or indirectly by mental ill health. So whether you are suffering yourself, or perhaps you are a carer or a family member who would like to know more about mental health, they can help.

With courses about specific diagnoses, general concepts or coping strategies, delivered by staff and peer support volunteers with lived experience of mental health challenges

Alongside educational sessions, they run courses and groups to encourage creativity, such as pottery, art groups and our allotment. During the warmer months, they also offer volunteering opportunities at the Caversham Court Tea Kiosk With several social groups happening every week, there’s always something happening to help support you in living your best life, whatever that may look like right now.

Watch their video to find out more

Enrol on a free Compass Recovery College course. Find out more every Thursday at digital enrolment sessions, call 0118 9373945 or email for more details.

Help others to stay well in Reading

Help Others

Kindness at Christmas

Someone you walk past today could be struggling with loneliness, try to make a connection with everyone you see today. We know it’s difficult wearing a mask and socially distancing but our eyes are the window to our soul! A smile even behind a mask could really help someone feel noticed.

Spot loneliness in someone you know. The Ready Friends Toolkit can help you identify loneliness and includes practical advice on how you can reach out and involve them. Tips on how to start a conversation, local buddying and befriending and lots more.

Could you help others who are feeling isolated this Christmas and winter? From a friendly call or a helping hand with shopping and prescription collections. Register how to help out and support people who are feeling isolated this Christmas and winter. How you can help people who are feeling isolated.

Christmas isn’t just about the big lunch, it’s about creating connections for those who can’t be with family and friends. Any connection can be meaningful and help to provide a bit of cheer in the gloomy days of a Covid winter. Find a few simple ways to bring people together this Christmas.

Loneliness at Christmas

Feeling lonely? Life can feel overwhelming. Reaching out to others may feel difficult at times, and knowing where to look for advice is sometimes hard. There are resources to help: a wellbeing calendar, videos, resource pack and podcast of people talking about their experiences of loneliness – discover their coping strategies. Support if you’re feeling lonely.

Loneliness can badly affect young people. You might be feeling lonely from spending more time online, not looking after your physical and mental health or from big changes in your life like the coronavirus pandemic. Find support; from a feel good playlist for lonely times, 6 ways to tackle loneliness, videos and lots more: Loneliness support for young people.

Age UK and Silverline open 365 days a year

If you’re feeling lonely or need some practical help and support, you’re not alone, there are people who can help. Age UK national advice line: 0800 678 1602 open 365 days a year 8am to 7pm.

And Silverline embed link in charity name provide 24 hours support and friendship every day, call 0800 470 8090. Free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice for older people.

Celebrating the vibrancy of Reading’s diverse multi-ethnic, multi-cultural communities and Reading Caribbean news

Acre celebrates the vibrancy of Reading’s diverse multi-ethnic, multi-cultural communities and despite the challenges Covid has presented they have created a community champion scheme to get people to stay connected and help each other, there’s a pilot community radio led by young community activists, bi-weekly ‘Let’s Talk’ community network meetings – a safe space for everyone to come and talk about mental health, wellbeing and more.

Acre ensures the multi-culturally diverse communities in Reading know that they are always here to support them.

If you’re interested in joining in or finding out more visit the Acre website or email or call 0118 951 0279.

Reading Caribbean Express Community News

The online newspaper for Reading for Caribbean news, events and information for everyone. We live in a diverse world with diverse views and outlooks and the online newspaper aims to bring everyone together. Do want to know more about Caribbean cultures that have added beautiful colours to our diverse communities in Reading? And information on what is happening in Reading; from community groups, support groups, health and wellbeing to education and services available.

Find out more about Reading Caribbean Express Community News here or email or call 07950 618 398.

Volunteering in Reading in 2021

Have you started thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions?

Find out about volunteering in Reading from Reading Voluntary Action with free online sessions in January where you can find out more from; volunteering for wellbeing, how volunteering can make a difference to your job search and an introduction to volunteering. Volunteering Resolutions 2021, find out more.

Meet Alison

Alison has volunteered in Reading for many years and thoroughly recommends it, it lifts her spirits, gives her purpose and helps to teach her children the importance of giving back to the local community. Watch Alison’s video and be inspired to start volunteering in 2021.

Meet Neil

Neil got involved in volunteering with Compass Recovery College after they helped him with mental health issues. He was also feeling isolated and volunteering has helped him immeasurably with his confidence too. Watch his video to find out more.