Community Information Ambassador December newsletter

Thank you for being a South Reading Community Information Ambassador.

You are a South Reading Community Information Ambassador, helping to improve life outcomes for our residents. In this third edition, we have included a spotlight on the impressive skills offer available from Reading’s Economy and Destination Agency (REDA), and the Berkshire Growth Hub, to our South Reading residents. We have also included exciting upcoming events, and initiatives from Reading Borough Council, and our partners, we hope will be of interest.

Speaking with residents, across South Reading, many of you asked for more guidance on where information on services, events, and other activities can be located. The role of a South Reading Community Information Ambassador is to act as an informal ambassador, spreading key messages to your social and professional networks via word of mouth, your communication channels, or through community groups or organisations you represent.

We want to help ensure everyone across South Reading has access to good quality information, particularly support, services, and events on offer from Reading Borough Council, Central Government, and importantly, yourselves, our crucial community partners. We want all residents in South Reading to be included in everything we do.

Spotlight: Skills

REDA: Earn Money Working for Yourself?

You may not have heard of REDA, but Reading’s Economy and Destination Agency is busy throughout the year supporting local people into jobs, training and self-employment. We work with lots of partners including major local employers and the Reading Business Network.

During 2023 our colleagues Isabel and Fred have been chatting with people in Whitley Community Café, giving advice on opportunities to start a business or learn new skills to get into work (or a better job!)

One of the options for training has been through Abbey Rotary Club. The Launch Reading programme, run by Rotary, helps Reading residents by offering free access to community support to help you get started working for yourself.

There’s a new course coming in February (10 weekly evening classes) and if you’d like free friendly help to develop a new business, and even apply for a start-up grant to get things moving, sign up for more information on the free training, business development services, and networking opportunities that Launch Reading offers.

Berkshire Growth Hub: Business Start-up Programme, Skills Bootcamp, and advice

Berkshire Growth Hub are hosting a new free, online, and interactive two-day programme to help any residents interested in starting their own business. The aim of the programme is to nurture emerging new businesses and help create a vibrant and supportive start-up community. They will support you in achieving your goals and equip you to meet current and future economic challenges. For further information, please visit the Start-up Programme webpage.

They are also offering a Skills Bootcamp – an amazing opportunity for learners to gain industry-specific skills and boost their job prospects. Additionally, their Advice Hub is full of data, tips and guidance for young people and adult learners starting to look at career opportunities.

Other useful information

The Giving Tree from Connect Reading

The Giving Tree has been running in Reading for over 10 years, with many lives enriched through the kindness of a Secret Santa. Connect Reading are working with member non-profit organisations who ask those they support what gift they most want (up to £15). They ensure the gift they have requested gets to them for Christmas through a public appeal, and by working with local businesses.

If you would like to find out more about the Giving Tree 2023 or have a business that would like to take part, please visit the Connect Reading 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 – call for 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.

To meet demand, ABC to read would like more volunteers to help children find the pleasure in reading. Volunteers are vetted, DBS checked and receive full safeguarding training, and support, as part of their initial training.

Can you help improve life outcomes for children? Are you a school that would like quality help to raise literacy standards? Please visit the ABC to read website, call 0118 9511336, or email to find out more.

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.

Household Support Fund open for applications

Residents on low incomes and those who are struggling to meet the rising cost of living, are eligible to apply for a £125 one-off payment (per household). Application portal to start your application.

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 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.

Small Grants for Creative Activities

Creative Lives is a national charity that believes taking part in creative activity, particularly when you do it with other people, can boost your well-being and make you feel connected to the place where you live. They are working with Reading Borough Council to support opportunities for everyone to find their creative side and offering small grants of £500 or £1000 for you to help make this happen. Do you have a creative skill you’d like to share with others? Are you part of a group that would like to do something creative? Are you a local business that could host a creative activity? Could be a drawing group in a hairdressing salon, a sing-a-long in a pub, clothes upcycling workshop in a community hall. Applications opened on 11 December 2023 and you will need to apply by 31 January 2024. This work is supported by the UK Shared Prosperity Funding.

Small Grants Making a Big Difference

The Council has opened the bidding process for round two of this year’s initiative. More information – including on how to bid – can be found at

An overall pot of £100,000 has been made available by the Council to be shared among community and voluntary groups, no matter how small. Grants of up to £5,000 are available, or £10,000 for partnership bids.

Local Plan Consultation

Residents are being invited to help shape the future of their town by taking part in an important public consultation on a refreshed planning blueprint for Reading.

The Local Plan is a crucial Council planning document which will help inform decisions on planning applications up to 2041. It outlines Council policies on key issues like future housing need, affordable homes, associated infrastructure and how sustainable developments will help Reading drive towards its net zero carbon ambitions.

Please see the press release for further information.

Other spotlight events

Winter Wildlife Wishing Tree (Thursday 21 December)

As winter draws in and there is less food for wildlife, make a tasty outdoor garland with popcorn and dried fruit for the wildlife in your area. Ages 5+, Families, 1-hour sessions starting at 10am, 11.15am, 1pm & 2.15pm. £4 per person. Book Winter Wildlife Wishing Tree.

Family Christmas Choir workshop (Thursday 21 December)

Part of the Reading BID Christmas Celebrations. Set aside some quality family time and make memories with Family Choir Club. We’ll sing old and new favourites, enjoy music games and learn new skills in an engaging, nurturing environment. No experience needed! This is a session to warm the cockles and bring the giggles. You will then be performing in The Pantry Café, where you will also receive a discount. Ages 7 and under, plus an adult family member of carer. 10.30am – 11.30am. Free. Book Family Christmas Choir workshop.

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.

Thank you for all your work in 2023 – we wish you a very happy and prosperous new year and look forward to working with you in 2024

Last updated on 14/04/2024