The Covid-19 pandemic is showing just how important it is to live the values we hold dear at Ethical Reading such as compassion, respect, fairness, collaboration and social purpose.
Thankfully the Reading community has really come into its own, responding with huge generosity, creativity and dedication. Here are a few of the great things going on at the moment in and around our town to ease the challenges local people are facing:
A newly formed local charity, Freely Fruity is dedicated to providing fresh fruit and vegetables for people in food poverty. During the pandemic they have been donating freshly harvested produce to Wokingham Food Bank, Grub Club Wokingham, Food Share Wokingham, Whitley Hub and Wycliffe Hub.
It was set up by three trustees, who are supported by a small group of volunteers
The site where they are currently growing has planning permission for a housing development, so the team are looking for a new home for next year’s growing season. Ideally somewhere within ten minutes of Sindlesham that has suitable growing land and access to water. Can you help?
Food4Families has created more than 25 school and community food-growing gardens in Reading over the past ten years, involving thousands of people in growing fresh, healthy produce.
In response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic it has started the Veg4Reading project to increase local food growing to provide fresh food to vulnerable people in the community.
Food4Families is looking for volunteers to help them expand production to meet demand as well as with distributing fresh produce. There will be opportunities to learn and develop skills while benefitting your own health and wellbeing by working on your local community garden.
Veg4Reading made its first veg drop offs in June, including taking lettuce and broad beans to Whitley CDA for them to distribute as part of their food parcels.
Get in touch to get involved.
Plant-based French patisserie specialist, Céline Lee from Cocolico Pâtisserie, is donating delicious vegan cakes to staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital every Friday, to give them a boost as another long week comes to a close.
Sewa is a sanskrit word for an act of kindness without an expectation of a reward.
Sewa Day is a global charity with a passionate set of 35+ volunteers in the Reading and surrounding area, who are giving their time and energy to help the vulnerable in the community and the Royal Berkshire Hospital staff through food parcels, free meals and sanitary products.
If you would like to volunteer, donate food or other products, please contact Sathish on 07872 631 193 or email [email protected].
Our Supporter has teamed up with Reading Voluntary Action (RVA) to put together the One Reading Community Hub, a central point of contact for people and businesses who need help or wish to volunteer. Just call 0808 1894325.
RVA has also created a coronavirus community action page, which is an excellent resource for individuals and businesses.
Local homelessness prevention charity, Launchpad, is continuing to support people in housing need throughout the crisis, mainly through phone-based support. They have also shared information about the virus with their clients, stressing the importance of cleanliness and provided them with hand gel. They are ready to give practical support to any who are self-isolating.
In addition, they have launched a Covid-19 ‘here for you’ telephone support line, where staff will provide a listening ear and signposting for anyone feeling lonely, worried about the future and loved ones or in need of help with practical issues, whatever their housing situation. You can call them on 0118 929 1111 or email [email protected]
One of our Partners, London Irish, is providing meals for NHS staff working in local hospitals. The team’s own chefs will be preparing all the meals at their training ground. The initiative is sponsored by recycling and waste management company Powerday PLC.
Independent Reading, another champion of local independent retailers, has put together a list of ways you can support some of Reading’s small businesses during the lockdown. Some may surprise you.
As the lockdown eases, she has now released a new piece showcasing the local independent shops that are reopening, so we can get out and support small local businesses.
Bracknell LETS is a Local Exchange Trading scheme with members across Bracknell, Binfield, Crowthorne, Reading and Wokingham. This non-money trading scheme enables people to exchange services and goods using credits called ‘Bricks’. Essentially it’s a self-help community – ideal in the current climate.
At the moment, Bracknell LETS is making a special effort to ensure that older people have the computer equipment and skills they need to connect with others via Zoom. Members have donated unwanted laptops, which one of the co-ordinators, Nick Mercer, is upgrading, ready to pass on to people who need them.
You can apply to join Bracknell LETS here.
Connect Reading is a registered charity and membership organisation. It exists to helps Reading-based businesses meet their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement objectives by providing opportunities for staff to get involved with community projects and initiatives.
The team is now working with local business to help them partner with third sector organisations to overcome the Covid-19 challenge.
ReadiFood is a well-known local food aid charity, which is part-funded by Reading Borough Council and local churches.
They have been fielding an unprecedented number of calls and referrals for food aid during the pandemic. In the last two weeks of March they distributed over 500 food parcels, which they estimate will have brought relief to over 600 people.
You can donate food or support them as a volunteer.
New Beginnings Reading is a homeless charity, which works to help local people who are in need due to social or economic reasons, regardless of their religion or beliefs.
They are running a community fridge, Monday to Friday between 6 and 7pm, from their base at The Queens Arms pub on Great Knollys Street, for anyone who is struggling to get the food they need. They are also providing hot takeaway meals between 3 and 4pm, all with appropriate social distancing.
Beat the Bug is a health and wellbeing content programme developed by local GP, Dr William Bird, and his organisation, Intelligent Health, the creators of Beat the Street.
It’s a free online resource designed to help all of us tackle Covid-19 through protecting our own physical and mental wellbeing and the NHS.
Whitley Community Development Association (CDA) have increased the support they are providing for vulnerable people in the Whitley area. They are now providing food for more than 100 families and individuals per week, thanks to generous support from donors including several small local businesses as well as corporations. For example Clay’s Hyderabadi Kitchen and Tutu’s Ethiopian Table have both donated hundreds of freshly cooked meals.
If you live in Whitley and need support, or know someone you does, you can email [email protected] or call 07799 146615. Please also feel free to get in touch if you would like to make a donation or volunteer.
3D visor printing collaboration
Local 3D printing company, Edumaker, has pulled together an engineering collective to produce protective face visors for the NHS. The group has pooled expertise from organisations including Cisco, RACE, the University of Reading and Oxford Academic Health Science Network.
In a ‘safe environment’ facility at Green Park, 113 Cisco volunteers are now printing more than 300 visors each day, using printers donated by Edumaker, Handy Dan’s 3D Prints, The Curious Lounge and Tocabot.
In an inspirational scheme developed by Mark Smith, Head of Design Technology, our Partner Leighton Park School is also producing face shields for frontline care workers.
They set the target of producing 1,000 shields but, with the support of 16 other schools, the University of Reading, rLAB and Neal Brothers Packaging, they had already produced more than 10,000 by mid-April. These are now helping to protect the health of staff at GP surgeries and hospitals as well as carers.
You can donate to help fund materials for more at www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-face-shields-for-frontline-nhs-staff.
Local boys’ grammar school, Reading School has teamed up with glamping pod company Caboose & Co to provide 40 temporary accommodation units for Royal Berkshire Hospital staff on its school field. This is helping frontline NHS workers get much needed rest after a busy shift, especially if people they live with are self-isolating.
With support from volunteers, the school is also providing free meals for hospital staff three times a day, plus tea, coffee and cake on Fridays.
The university has also donated 100 high quality webcams to two hospitals – Royal Berkshire Hospital here in Reading and Royal Brompton Hospital in West London. These will help patients connect with their loved ones safely and also enable senior clinicians to provide remote support to patients in critical care areas.
In addition it is providing free parking for NHS staff on its London Road and Whiteknights campuses.
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