The Revive Reading Summit

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on Reading, as the rest of the world. The purpose of the Summit was to share ideas on actions that could be undertaken without new policies, that would have a major impact on Reading, as the pandemic recedes.

The five organisations in the heading all share an aim of making Reading a better place to live and work, through a range of networks and projects. So the Summit was supported by speakers and participants from all five organisations. Fifty eight people took part in the virtual Summit, over 1 ½ hours.

Before the Summit, we circulated two surveys, one to participants and another to members of Ethical Reading – the results can be found here:

Participant survey results

Member survey results.

In summary, the respondents were in much agreement:

  • After COVID-19 lockdown, respondents wanted to get back to connecting with people, and to the employment levels pre-COVID-19.
  • After Covid-19 lockdown, respondents wanted to keep flexible working, fewer cars & less pollution, community spirit.
  • About three quarters of respondents voted for environmental sustainability or economic growth as the lead want for their “Reading of the future”, evenly split.

We also researched other organisations considering rebuilding after Covid with an international UK or local basis: a list is included as an Appendix.

Rachel Spencer, Chief Executive of Reading Voluntary Action, reported on a recent survey exploring the issues that concern youth in Reading, and posed the question:

  • What can we do to ensure the ‘Lockdown Generation’ is not lost but instead becomes the ‘Pioneer Generation’ at the centre of our new world?

Nigel Horton-Baker, Executive Director of Reading UK CIC, focused on the economy and Reading’s resilience, and asked:

  • What have we learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic about Reading’s economic strengths and opportunities that will help it bounce back as it has on the past?

Professor Tim Dixon of the University of Reading described the Reading Climate Change Partnership: and discussed how COVID-19 had expanded the perception of possible changes, using the Amsterdam City Doughnut, based on Kate Raworth’s work, as an exemplar. He posed the question:

  • What has COVID-19 taught us that we should definitely do differently in Reading to help reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and help sustainable economic recovery? How can this be achieved?

Six breakout groups then considered the four questions, and each fed back their most important insights on actions that Reading could take to ensure revival, after COVID-19. Notes from each group were shared across the collaboration team and provide the basis for the report on our web site

In a later blog we will provide an update on the initiatives that came out of the Summit – watch this space!

In the meantime, please comment on this blog with your answers to the questions.


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