Successful £70K Funding Bids Announced for Projects to Help Improve the Quality of Life of Reading Residents

Age UK
Age UK – celebrating life histories

READING COUNCIL has announced the successful groups who bid for a share of £70K funding, based on how they could help improve the quality of life of Reading residents.

Two pots of £20K (both co-funded by Berkshire Community Foundation) and one pot of £30K (match funded by Brighter Futures for Children) were available for arts, culture and/or heritage community programmes to run activities over 12 months as part of the year three Cultural Commissioning Programme funding.

The project aims to engage local people in arts and cultural activities they might otherwise not have access to, with a view to having a wide reaching beneficial impact on people’s health and well-being. It is particularly focused at those less likely to access cultural opportunities and where engagement could have a significant positive impact on people’s general outlook and lives.

The three successful cultural projects are:

‘Untold Stories’ – a series of creative workshops and work placements to build young people’s confidence and key skills and empower them to create their own film production company!  This exciting creative employment-themed project will be delivered by the Mustard Tree, in partnership with Real Time and Cranbury College and will work with young people aged 15-24 who are (or who are at risk of becoming) not in education, employment or training (NEET), in particular those with significant additional needs, to see the ‘art of the possible’  through the world of film production.

Performing arts programme – through this programme, vulnerable, at-risk women with complex needs will be creatively empowered to explore their feelings and  improve their self-confidence.  The women will be able to enhance their communication and conflict resolution skills by expressing their feelings through performance.  This socially impactful project will be delivered by Alana House, in partnership with Rahab and Reading Rep.

Celebrating life histories – through reminiscing about their lives and bringing common interests together, this storytelling and sharing project will engage older people at risk of loneliness and social isolation. The activities will be designed to benefit the wellbeing of the participants. It is a heart-warming project that will be delivered by Age UK Berkshire, in partnership with Younger People with Dementia Berkshire and The Museum of English Rural Life.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “For the third year running, we have found three fantastic recipients for the Reading, Place of Culture funding. Thanks are due to the generous match funding available this year from our partners, Brighter Futures for Children and Berkshire Community Foundation.

“One of the biggest benefits of engaging in arts and cultural activities is the enormous and wide reaching positive impact on people’s health; improving recovery from illness, promoting community spirit, combatting loneliness and relieving the pressure on GP services. We are proud that the Place of Culture funding has chosen to focus on those for whom engaging in cultural and arts activities is not always a given, but potentially could mean so much to their overall health and happiness.  

“Reading truly is the sum of all our amazing residents and groups and the efforts that they work so hard to bring to fruition for our residents’ benefits. These dedicated and talented people are an integral key to Reading’s drive to ensure that cultural offerings are accessible to all and representative of our diverse communities.  

“The projects we have funded during year 1 and year 2 are already having a significant impact on the lives of the people involved.

“I’d also like to extend our thanks to the generous support from National Lottery players and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England, which has enabled these projects to take place.”

The Cultural Commissioning Programme is part of ‘Reading, Place of Culture’ which is linked to the Great Place Scheme, funded by the Arts Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

To find out more and to view case studies of year 1 projects, visit:



Year 3 match funders:

Brighter Futures

Berkshire Community Foundation

Successful groups: (Younger People with Dementia Berkshire)
About The Great Place Scheme

In 2017, Reading Borough Council and its partners, Reading UK CIC and the University of Reading, successfully secured a grant of £558,471 thanks to National Lottery players and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and Historic England for the Great Place Scheme.

The scheme funds projects in areas where there is a commitment to embed arts, culture and heritage in local plans and decision-making. The funding covers a three year period to support programmes running until December 2020.

The Great Place Scheme is designed to put arts, culture and heritage at the heart of successful communities across England. Sixteen areas, including Reading, are piloting a new approach to enable cultural, community and civic organisations to work more closely together.

In Reading this will include supporting various community projects targeted at improving health, well-being and quality of life, as well as support for the Reading-on-Thames festival which marries Reading’s waterways heritage with a high-quality arts and cultural programme.

The Great Place Scheme award is external funding Reading Council has successfully bid for. That means it can only be spent on arts, culture and heritage related projects that formed the bid, rather than any other Council services. Activities proposed as part of the Great Place Scheme bid are strongly aligned with the Council’s priorities for supporting Reading’s economic success and the well-being of its residents.

For more information on the Great Place Scheme visit:

Year 1 Case Studies

View case studies on the cultural commissioning programme – key challenges, successes and outcomes of year 1 projects, including:

  • Alana House – a project to build vulnerable women’s self-confidence by developing photographic and digital story-telling skills.
    Museum Partnership Reading – project delivered activities using reminiscence, gardening, dance and knitting, with over 170 older people to improve health and wellbeing and reduce loneliness.
  • Reading Rep – delivered a series of performing arts workshops to boost self-esteem, confidence and life skills for older people, adults with mental health illness and people with complex learning difficulties.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

About Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment. Find out more at

Victoria Nickless

For media enquiries about this release email or call 0118 937 3957