Community Information Ambassador April newsletter

You’re helping to improve the lives in your community!

In this seventh newsletter, we’ve included information on the May elections, and exciting upcoming events from Reading Borough Council, and organisations we work with.

We’ve been speaking with South Reading residents, many have asked for more information on where services, events, and other activities can be found. We need and appreciate your help as a South Reading Community Information Ambassador in sharing information to your friends, family, neighbours and work colleagues when you’re chatting, on WhatsApp, email or Facebook or through the community groups or organisations you represent.

We want to help make sure everyone across South Reading has access to good quality information, especially support, services, and events on from Reading Borough Council, the Government, and importantly, yourselves, our vital community partners.

We want all residents in South Reading to be included in everything we do, and we appreciate your help.

Want to shape the future of the South Reading Community Information Ambassadors?

We need your help! As the network has been up and running for six months, we’re looking at what works well, and what could be better. Please fill in our online form to help us and you, it should take less than five minutes.

Once you have completed our online form you will automatically be entered in to our prize draw, with a chance to win a £50 (one available) or £25 (two available) Morrisons voucher.

Are you election ready?

Both the Local Borough and Police and Crime Commissioner Elections (PCC) will take place in Whitley and Church on Thursday 2nd May 2024.

Voter ID needed at polling stations

Last year the Government introduced a new law which means residents have to show photographic ID to be able to vote at polling stations. That requirement continues this year.

People who plan to vote in person at a polling station are being asked to check now that they have an accepted form of ID. These include:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence/provisional licence
  • Blue badge
  • Certain concessionary travel cards, such as an older person’s bus pass or an Oyster 60+ card
  • Identity card with Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) mark
  • Biometric Immigration document
  • Defence identity card
  • Certain national identity cards

Voters can use expired ID, as long as they are still recognisable from the photo. A full list of accepted forms of ID is available on the Electoral Commission’s website.

Residents who have a suitable photo ID need to remember to bring it with them on the day. Where a voter turns up at a polling station without photo identification, they will be asked to return home to find an acceptable form of photo ID before they can be issued with a ballot paper. A polling card alone does not entitle someone to vote.

Residents who do not have an accepted form of ID can apply online for a free Voter Authority Certificate (VAC). Residents who need help with applying for a VAC, or prefer to request a paper application form, can contact Electoral Services at or call 0118 937 3717.

VAC applications will be processed by the Council and posted to the relevant home address, or they can be collected at the Civic Offices upon appointment, which can be made by contacting Electoral Services on 0118 937 3717 or by emailing

The deadline for applying for a VAC is 5.00pm on Wednesday 24 April 2024.

Postal vote returns

Make sure your completed postal vote pack is returned via a Royal Mail letterbox, find the one closest to you: Royal Mail services near you. Your postal vote needs to be with the elections team by 10pm on polling day to be counted.

If returning a postal pack to the Reading Council offices, or a Polling Station, only 5 packs in addition to your own are accepted, with a completed form required for acceptance. Learn more about postal voting changes on the Electoral Commission website.
For further information on the voting in the elections (including Postal and Proxy Votes, and Absent Vote Applications Process) please visit our elections and voting pages.

Change of polling place in Church

Due to building works at the Northcourt Avenue Scouts HQ, this polling station will be temporarily relocated to Tyndale Baptist Church, Cressingham Rd, RG2 7JE – what3words: ///shakes.brand.minute. Please double-check your polling venue, on your polling card.

For full details of the 2024 local elections, please visit our elections and voting pages.

South Reading Leisure Centre improvement works update

Improvement works at South Reading Leisure Centre had been progressing to schedule, but the team have now encountered an unavoidable delay in obtaining essential materials which means the pool closure period needs to be extended. GLL, who run Reading’s leisure facilities on behalf of the Council, will contact all centre users to inform them of the delay, including changes to swimming sessions. Memberships will continue to be upgraded, enabling customers to access to all of the borough’s leisure centres and pools, including Palmer Park’s new 25m- 6-lane pool.

The revised opening date will be in the summer and we will continue to keep residents updated on progress. We apologise for this unforeseen delay, which we appreciate will be frustrating for residents, and hope residents will welcome the improvements to the refurbished changing rooms and swimming pool when they reopen.

Other useful information

B&Q Foundation 2024 Grants

B&Q is supporting local charities who share their vision – helping to create better, safer places for the people in our communities who need them most. The next round of funding opens at 09:30 on Monday 29 April and closes at 6:00pm on Friday 17 May.

For more information, please visit the B&Q website.

Whitley Wood Pantry

Run from the Whitley Wood Community Centre, every Tuesday 1 – 3pm. Come along for a free cuppa, and to chat to others. Subsidised food is also available for £5.

Assisting Berkshire Children (ABC) to read – need volunteers

Award winning charity, ABC to read, aim to help as many children as possible improve their reading to enable them to achieve success in education and confidently meet the challenges of adult life.

ABC to read need more volunteers, could you help local children find the fun in reading. Volunteers need to be DBS checked and will receive full safeguarding training, and support, as part of their training.

If you’d like to find out more email or call 0118 9511336 and visit the Assisting Berkshire Children to Read website.

And if you know a school that would like help to raise reading standards, please get in touch too.

Whitley CDA Community Café

In addition to weekdays, Whitley CDA’s community cafe will reopen its doors on Saturday mornings. From 9am to 12pm, they will be offering affordable breakfasts in a family friendly environment. Look out for what’s going on each Saturday on the Whitley CDA Facebook page.

Advice, information, and support services

For free, impartial, and confidential specialist advice to help with a wide range of problems including benefits, debt and money, cost of living, and online support, please contact Citizens Advice Reading, CommuniCare or Reading Welfare Rights.

If you would prefer an in-person informal chat, or assistance with online applications, please visit the Whitley CDA Community Café, in the South Reading Community Hub, on a Monday, Wednesday, or the first Saturday of every month to speak with the organisations.

For specific debt advice, please contact Frontline, who provide expert assistance to those who are disadvantaged by the burden of debt, often through no fault of their own. They also specialise in offering independent, expert benefit advice.

Reading 4 Community (R4C)

R4C is a free online funding search tool which helps Voluntary Organisations, working for the benefit of our residents, to find grants, awards and other funding to start new projects. Please visit the R4C website for further information.

Is your community organisation looking for space?

If you are part of a community or voluntary sector organisation that is interested in renting or sharing space in a Reading Borough Council-owned building, please complete this online form.

The Council endeavour to match organisations to suitable premises wherever possible. If we are unable to fulfil your request on this occasion, we commit to providing you with useful feedback to help you in your search going forward.

Whitley Wood Playgroup

Do you have a child aged 0-4? Then come long to the Whitley Wood Playgroup, on Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 am at the Whitley Wood Community Centre.

For more information, please contact and r.puno-

Chair-based exercise group

At St Pauls Hall, Whitley Wood Lane, RG2 8PN. Every Monday at 10:45am, run by the Parish Nurse, chair-based exercise group for all ages and abilities, followed with free refreshments.

From 1pm, health advice is offered, and simple well-being checks by a qualified, registered nurse.

Every first Monday of the month 12 pm Free Hot homemade soup and a roll.

No booking necessary, just turn up! For more information please email

Other spotlight events

Community Wellness Outreach Health Checks (Wednesday 17 April)

From 9:30 am to 2:30 pm at WCDA at the South Reading Community Hub, 252 Northumberland Avenue, RG2 7QA, qualified nurses will be delivering a full free Health Check, and providing advice and guidance, to help you live a healthier life.

The hub is served by the No. 5 bus, bust stop Community Centre. No car parking spaces but easily accessible by bus or parking on nearby streets.

Community Wellness Outreach Health Checks (Saturday 20 April)

From 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at WCDA, at the South Reading Community Hub.

For a full list of what’s on in Reading – please visit the Reading Directory

If you have any information you would like to include in the next newsletter or wish to unsubscribe and opt out of being a South Reading Community Information Ambassador, please email Ollie Cassells, Community Project Officer – – with your request.

Last updated on 08/05/2024