READING COUNCIL is celebrating National Volunteers’ Week 2020 (1 – 7 June), expressing thanks to all the amazing volunteers and voluntary organisations who have risen to the challenge during the coronavirus crisis.
During National Volunteers’ Week, the Council is launching a second phase of funding for small grants to the voluntary sector. The funding pot of £70K will assist their ongoing efforts to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Back in March, action was taken to support and co-ordinate voluntary groups across Reading in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Reading boasts a large and vastly experienced 3rd sector who have played a vital role in the difficult months since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Local voluntary groups were invited to apply for a share of money from a Council funding pot of up to £100K, in order to provide extra support to vulnerable members of the community in Reading during the initial stages of the coronavirus crisis. To date, several organisations have benefited from over 30K of funding, including:
- £5.5K for Reading Voluntary Action – the funding has extended shopping support to those vulnerable but non-shielded who cannot get online supermarket slots, as well as enabling DBS checks for additional volunteers;
- £4,320 for Communicare who have supported over 400 referrals from the One Reading Community Hub, assisting people with advice on benefits, universal credit, furlough process, housing issues, employment, finances & bills, also referring on for foodbank support where needed;
- £2,500 for Healthwatch who have supported prescription medication collection and deliveries – over 500 of which have come via the One Reading Community Hub;
- £1,850 to Age UK Berks for laptops and to allow contact with families for the elderly via tech, alongside expanding their befriending service;
- £9,433 to Dingley’s Promise, a charitable company that supports under 5’s with additional needs and their families, for expanding their service offer to additional 20 families with children with SEND and to provide free online training in Inclusive Practice in Early Years’ Education to Reading-based practitioners.
Further funding available
The Council is now launching the second phase of applications for its total grant pot of the remaining £70K and is encouraging voluntary groups to apply, now with a focus on supporting recovery plans, different modes of service delivery and more ongoing needs from the impact of Covid19. The Council’s post-Covid19 Recovery Plan will focus on protecting the most vulnerable in Reading’s communities and to protect the economy and it welcomes applications from organisations who can assist with this.
The deadline for applications is the 30th June 2020.
Groups can find out more and apply online at www.reading.gov.uk/voluntaryfund
Council Leader Jason Brock said: “It is fitting, during National Volunteer Week 2020, to reflect on the debt of gratitude we owe to the army of volunteers and voluntary organisations who have worked tirelessly to ensure all of Reading’s vulnerable residents are supported, and in extremely difficult circumstances over the past few months. This includes all the many dedicated One Reading Community Hub volunteers, with over 1,744 food parcels delivered to date as well as support for medicine collection and befriending to combat loneliness and isolation.
“I’m pleased that so many services have been delivered through our voluntary sector partners as a result of the Council’s initial funding pot. Whilst we hope that the very worst of the pandemic is over, we know that we have a multitude of potential issues to face in recovery from the crisis.
“We have allocated £100,000 of grant funding for the voluntary sector and we are encouraging organisations to apply now for a share of the remaining £70,000. Many organisations will be turning their attention to how they can begin the journey to recovery and how they can continue to support the community as lockdown begins to ease. We are keen to enable communities to help themselves, put new ideas into practice or respond to emerging needs within the community.
“I encourage local groups to visit www.reading.gov.uk/voluntaryfund to find out more and find details on how to apply.
“We have seen outstanding displays of community spirit during these challenging times. I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to all the volunteers who have helped keep Reading going in the toughest of times. Your efforts – alongside those of our keyworkers, frontline staff and carers – show exceptional selflessness, dedication and determination. I thank you all.”
The grants programme is aimed at Community groups based in Reading borough, including:
- charitable organisations
- voluntary organisations
- community groups
- sports groups
- arts groups
- cultural organisations
- uniformed groups (scouts, guides etc)
- not-for-profit social enterprises
Grants of up to £5K (increased to £10K for joint bids proposing a co-ordinated approach by more than one organisation) are available to support the infrastructure and/or additional capacity needed by organisations to expand existing service, deliver services in a different way or to develop new services and support in response to circumstances being presented as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.