THE PEOPLE of Reading will come together in February in a bid to reduce loneliness and social isolation in our communities.
A special public event on Wednesday 21st February at Reading Town Hall, themed ‘Let’s Make Reading Friendlier,’ will give attendees the opportunity to explore how we can work together to tackle loneliness across the town.
The free event runs from 5 – 8 pm, starting with an information marketplace and refreshments.
People can find out about what organisations and local services are already doing to reduce loneliness and social isolation. Information will be available for people who would like to access these services and for those who might like to volunteer with some of the organisations.
Key speakers at the event include the inspiring Iona Lawrence, director of the Jo Cox Foundation, who will provide insight into what the Foundation has been doing over the past year and how that can be translated into local action here in Reading.
Conference attendees will be invited to participate in discussion workshops on how we can all take action to reduce loneliness.
The event is coordinated by Reading Voluntary Action in partnership with Reading Borough Council, Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and a number local charities and businesses, and is open to everyone who lives or works in Reading.
Rachel Goater, Community Involvement Officer at Reading Voluntary Action, said: “From our research we understand that around half of Reading residents feel lonely at some point every week, and 10.5% of residents feel lonely most or all of the time. This is equivalent to over 16,000 people in Reading alone. We want everyone to join in the conversation about how we tackle loneliness together, in our communities and in the places we work, study and socialise.”
Cllr Rachel Eden, Reading’s Lead member for Adult Social Care, said: “We all want to make Reading an even friendlier place. Loneliness can affect any of us and with the work nationally of the Jo Cox loneliness commission highlighting the importance of this we can be proud of what we’re doing here in Reading. Feeling connected is good for us – not just our mental but also our physical health. By working together I’m sure that we can make Reading a truly friendly town for more people in our community. I’d encourage as many people as possible to come to this event and to look out for more about how they can get involved.”
Attendance is free, but advance registration is necessary.
If people represent an organisation that would like to attend, there is an additional afternoon session from 3 – 5 pm, with a focus on collaboration between organisations and across sectors. Contact Rachel Goater firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Last spring, 450 local residents filled out an RVA questionnaire that fed into a report on loneliness among people in Reading. The research identified some interesting results. Respondents were of all ages and from all areas of Reading and life situations. 10.5% of respondents were often / always lonely and 50% of respondents were lonely at some point every week.
It was also identified that people who have a disability or mental illness are 72% more likely to experience loneliness every week.
Additionally, the three major barriers to being more socially active were lack of information, transport issues and lack of confidence.
This information has already helped to inform a number of local charities in their future activity.
Organisations supporting the event:
· Reading Voluntary Action
· Reading Borough Council
· Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust
· British Red Cross
· Reading Neighbourhood Network
· The Oracle Shopping Centre
Organisations participating as speakers and workshop leads:
· Reading Museum
· Museum of English Rural Life
· No 5 Youth Counselling
· Eden Project Communities
· Caversham Action on Loneliness Group