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Welcome to Connecting Communities in Berkshire monthly e-bulletin full of community training opportunities, funding and Berkshire based news.

We hope you are all staying well and safe during these difficult times. Best wishes Gemma, Tim, Helen & Kate

Since Covid 19 hit the UK we and many other organisations had to cancel or postpone all face-to-face training. As CCB we had to think quickly about how we can still roll out some of our adult community learning programme. Thankfully due to the advances of technology we have been able to successfully deliver three online funding training webinars in partnership with Volunteer Centre West Berkshire.

These sessions were supported by West Berkshire Adult Community Learning and delivered to 69 learners and their feedback from all the sessions was really positive with 72% rating as the training as EXCELLENT and the remainder stating it was good.

Some quotes from learners can be found below:
"I enjoyed the fact the content was relevant but not too long."

"Excellent course and very informative, all accessible in a very safe way."

"I found it much slicker than face-to-face training"

"Love the fact I didn't have to travel anywhere to access this training."

"Simple and effective way of communicating information. Asking questions was easy (and it's my first time on Zoom!)"

This afternoon we are running a trial session for Village Hall and Community Building Trustees that wish to apply for the Quality Standard Hallmark and if we feel this has been successful we will roll this opportunity out to other trustees across the county. We will also be bringing you an online training opportunity in June for anyone interested in learning more about Community Led Housing. More information about how to book on this below. 
New: Community Led Housing Training Webinar

Date: Thursday 4th June, 11am online webinar
To book your FREE place:

Connecting Communities in Berkshire with the Thames Valley Collaborative Housing Hub are running a FREE short online course on Community-led housing in June. This course is supported by Wokingham Borough Council Adult Community Learning.We are aware that development and new houses are currently being built throughout the Thames Valley on a large scale but are they really affordable or accessible to people growing up or working in your village or community?

Community-led housing is housing built on a not-for-profit basis by a community to meet its own needs. There are a number of different approaches to community-led housing, all resulting in homes built for the community but with different processes and levels of involvement.This short, online, introductory course will enable participants to understand the differences between the various models of community-led housing. It is aimed at Parish & Town Councillors, land owners and anyone from both rural and urban communities interested in exploring the options for providing affordable housing for people with a connection to their community. Rural exception sites are now quite well-known and at this session we will examine them in the context of other options, including self-build, community land trusts and co-operatives,
Community Loneliness Survey 
How Often Do You Feel Lonely? Feeling isolated or lonely is a problem that most of us will face at some point in our lives. Living in a thriving and supportive community is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of loneliness and isolation, which is why CCB is supporting people to examine the kinds of activities taking place in our villages. We can help to reduce loneliness by encouraging more people to get involved with existing activities and providing help with setting new ones up.

The threat posed by the Coronavirus puts us all in an unprecedented position and ensures that the issue of social isolation is in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whilst in the short-term we may need to restrict contact with friends and neighbours, particularly those more vulnerable to the virus, it is important to consider how to ensure that we live in well-connected communities in the longer-term.
The link below will take you to a survey form, responses to which will help us with this project. The form asks how easy is it to find and access activities in your community, and seeks your ideas on what you’d like to see taking place. You don’t have to give us any personal details, just your reflections and ideas.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about the project or are interested in getting involved. Thank you. Tim Parry:
Roadmap to Village Halls Re-opening by Kate Meads, CCB Community Buildings Advisor
Please note that this information is current at the time of publication and guidance will be subject to changes so please always look here to check the latest.

Key points from the "road map" (timings dependent on virus containment):
1. Children are anticipated to be able to attend early years settings from 1st June (Step 2). 
Further guidance to come but halls hosting pre-schools need to plan for this. 
2. Community halls appear likely to be allowed to open in Step 3 (hoped to be 4th July) providing they meet CV-19 guidelines. 

CV-19 secure guidelines provided for work spaces and outdoor areas include the following:
•    A CV-19 Risk assessment should be carried out in consultation with employees/clients.
•    Premises should be cleaned more regularly. Close attention should be paid to high-contact 
objects like door handles and keyboards.
•    Handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers should be provided at entry and exit points
•    Maintain social distancing where possible. Stay side to side rather than face to face. Wear a face
 covering (not face masks) where 2 m distancing is not possible and wash them regularly.
•    People should apply hand sanitiser when entering a building and after contact with surfaces
•    Limit the number of people an individual is in contact with regularly
•    Keep indoor areas well ventilated i.e. windows and doors open or use air conditioning 
•    Wash clothing and fabrics regularly
•    Crowds will still need to be avoided in Step 3

From Wed 13th May people will be able to.
•    Spend time outdoors – for example sitting and enjoying the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing
•    Meet one other person from a different household outdoors - following social distancing guidelines
•    Exercise outdoors as often as you wish - following social distancing guidelines
•    Use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – 
with members of your household, or one other person while staying 2 metres apart
Funding News May 2020
With thanks to Reading Voluntary Action, Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, Wokingham & Bracknell Involve and Slough CVS for information. Please click on links for further information.
Rural Mobility Fund – Deadline Extended to the 4th June 2020
English local authorities can bid for funding to trial on-demand bus services in rural or suburban areas. A total of £20 million available and the DfT expect to see a range of project sizes coming forward, many of which would receive funding of between £500,000 and £1.5 million. See

National Churches Trust
The Trust’s grants are available to any Christian place of worship in the UK that is open for regular worship. They cover a range of different construction, maintenance and planning purposes; from repairing a roof to helping to install an accessible toilet – and many other projects.  Grants are available for projects under £10,000 to Grants up to £100,000.  All 4 grants are open.  See details at:

Lord’s Taverners Accessible Minibuses Grant Programme 
The Lord’s Taverners, the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, is accepting applications through its Accessible Minibuses grants programme. SEN Schools and organisations catering for young disabled people in the UK can apply to the Lords Taverners for specially adapted, wheelchair-accessible minibuses.  (keep scrolling down on their website to find the application form)

Music for All Charity
Small grants which can be put towards musical instrument costs, workshops/training, using music to break down barriers, providing a variety of educational opportunities as well as helping to find ways to integrate many diverse and minority groups positively into society. Grants of up to £2,500 are available.   Deadlines extended to November 2020

Golsoncott Foundation
The Golsoncott Foundation aims to promote, maintain, improve and advance the education of the public in the arts generally and in particular the fine arts and music. This includes providing access to the arts for young people and developing new audiences. Grants vary according to context and are not subject to an inflexible limit, but they are unlikely to exceed £3,000 and are normally given on a non-recurrent basis. Applications quarterly. To Apply see

The Edward Gostling Foundation
The Edward Gostling Foundation supports charitable organisations that work with people living with a mental and/ or physical disability or long term illness. 

The Masonic Charitable Foundation
The Masonic Charitable Foundation has opened the Freemasons’ COVID-19 Community Fund, with a total of £95,241 raised as at 22 April 2020. 

Swimathon Foundation Launches COVID-19 Relief Fund
Small swimming and aquatic organisations experiencing short-term financial hardship from the effects of coronavirus/COVID-19 can apply for a grant to of £250 – £1,000.

Thomas Wall Trust: Digital Skills 2020 Grants Programme
Grants up to £5,000 to equip adults with basic digital skills for work and life, helping them access the online world. 

Tesco Bags of Help Covid-19 Communities Fund – open for applications
Tesco Bags of Help is responding to the current coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis by setting up a new short-term fund to support local communities. Successful organisations will receive a single payment award of £500.

The Yapp Charitable Trust – core funding for small charities
The Yapp Charitable Trust has invited small UK charities affected by the impact of Covid-19 to apply for grants of up to £3,000.

National Lottery Community Fund – Awards for All Covid-19 Response funding open
The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) Awards for All funding will prioritise Covid-19 response for the next six months. 

Alpkit Foundation – Covid-19 response funding for grassroots groups
Alpkit Foundation are now prioritising their funds to support projects that demonstrate an immediate impact on those affected by the Covid-19 virus crisis.

DEFRA Food Charities Grant
Grants of up to £100,000 each are available to front line food aid charities that are unable to meet an increased demand for food from vulnerable individuals as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.  
Baring Foundation: Three streams of funding to strengthen Civil Society. 
The North Face Covid-19 explore fund
If you support outdoor communities and are a Conservation group or organisation​, outdoor charity or industry association or an organisation registered in UK / DEU/ ITA or FRA and involved in camping, environmental education, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, indoor rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, trail running, alpinism​; then you can apply on-line for grants of €1000-€50,000. Deadline 22nd May 2020. See
Charities working with Armed Forces communities
Armed Forces charities and Community Interest Companies (CICs) who are delivering services to veterans, Armed Forces families and others from the Armed Forces community. 
Aviva community fund – crowdfunding
Is open to applications from charities with income less than £1m, who either: Tackle inequality and improve environments for more connected, and resilient communities or Give people the tools to become more financially independent and have project or new initiatives to fund or who need core costs to adapt or continue vital services during the COVID-19 outbreak. Next round of this support closes on 28th July 2020.

Youth Endowment Fund launches £6.5 million Covid-19 grant
This round will fund and evaluate work which supports vulnerable young people at risk of youth violence. 
National Lottery Community Funding
Community funding is available for charities, NFPs, community aand voluntary organisations and social enterprises and CIS’s. 

Football Foundation launch the new ‘Pitch Preparation Fund’
Grants to help get their natural and artificial grass pitches ready for when Government advice allows football to start being played again are available to FA National League System Clubs, FA Women’s Pyramid clubs and eligible affiliated grassroots clubs and organisation.
Despite a strong community spirit, Covid-19 is exposing real challenges in our rural areas by Rural Services Network

Philip Dunne MP (Con) has written an article for Politics Home, arguing that due to factors such as a concentration of jobs in key employers as well as a lack of connectivity, the coronavirus crisis has starkly exposed the rural/urban divide
Dunne highlights that in rural areas above average elderly populations which require greater support, fewer medical settings and greater sparsity and distance have all increased pressure on clinicians and care workers.

In particular, he argues that rural areas have been slower in receiving broadband and even mobile phone connectivity, leading the crisis to expose real challenges.

While home working is feasible for many jobs in urban areas, lack of connectivity still excludes too many in sparsely populated parts of the country.

Employment in rural areas is also disproportionately in essential roles – hospitals and local authorities are often the largest employers in county towns, and residential care homes are frequently the largest employer in a village.

He argues that when the crisis passes, the Government will need to look seriously at rural/urban inequalities to ensure rural areas recover alongside urban areas, both in health and the economy.

Full article:
Politics Home - Despite a strong community spirit, Covid-19 is exposing real challenges in our rural areas
COVID-19 in the UK Community
We are a team of researchers at the University of Oxford seeking volunteers for a COVID-19 study.

About Our Study
A new project by researchers at the University of Oxford seeks to estimate how common coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is in the United Kingdom, and explore using a new diagnostic tool called nanopore sequencing.

We are seeking volunteers aged 18 years or older who have never been diagnosed with COVID-19 to volunteer. To find out more please click here:
Get Help Paying 
We’re always here to support our customers who may be struggling to pay their bills. Now more than ever, we’re committed to providing options for customers who are worried about the cost of their bills, particularly in this uncertain time of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Help paying during the coronavirus outbreak - If you’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak – we want to help. We’ve set up a 'flexible payment period' for our customers to either temporarily pause or reduce payments. If you’d to know more about how we can support you, visit our flexible payments information page.
Help with general billing enquiries - If you have a general enquiry which is unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, we’re continuing to support you too:
Mental Health Awareness Week 
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from 18-24 May 2020. The theme is kindness. Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time. Mental health is everyone’s business. So, for one week each May, we campaign around a specific theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.

One thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times. We have learnt that amid the fear, there is also community, support and hope. The added benefit of helping others is that it is good for our own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress & improve emotional wellbeing. 

Looking After Your Mental Health During COVID-19
Mental Health Awareness Week is on 18th-24th May 2020, encouraging people to spread kindness during these difficult times.  For advice from BHFT about looking after your mental wellbeing during this pandemic, visit: 
Talking Therapies is also still available. There are more details on the website or you can contact them on 0300 365 2000 or
Mental health charity Mind has also provided lots of information on their website about looking after your mental wellbeing while staying at home:
Opportunity in West Berkshire to Save Money on Energy Bills

The ‘free to join’ Big Community Switch scheme negotiates competitive prices with energy companies on behalf of local residents. Those who register their interest will then be given a personalised offer showing how much could be saved by switching. If you decide to switch, the scheme takes care of the entire process for you. There is no obligation to switch.

Since 2016, switchers in West Berkshire saved more than £30,000.

How it Works
If you want to take part, register at and sign up by 19 May. You will need to have your latest energy bill to hand as you’ll need the details during the registration process.

You will receive your personal offer email from 2 June.

If someone doesn’t have internet

The same email address can be used up to 5 times so you can sign up on behalf of friends or relatives without internet access. Or people without internet access can contact the Big Community Switch registration line on 0800 048 8439 Mon – Fri 8am – 5.30pm. Again, remember to have your energy bill or annual statement to hand when you call.up

Solar Panels
If you have solar panels you can still change your energy supply without needing to change your FiT (Feed in Tariff) supplier. However, the FiT amount is the same for all suppliers as it is set by the government so it wouldn’t matter if you did change your FiT supplier.

Local businesses who want to lower their energy bills can register with Make It Cheaper by registering online here or calling 0800 188 4965

For more details please contact:
The Big Community Switch
0800 048 8285.

Get Berkshire Active Survey

Get Berkshire Active have launched a survey targeting members of the public, to understand how to provide better opportunities for physical activity to keep everyone active now and when the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Please help them shape the present and the future of physical activity in Berkshire and fill in our short survey.  Please could share this links with your respective networks. Survey should take 5-10minutes to complete and deadline for responses is the 17th May.

For information on staying active at home, supporting your physical and mental wellbeing at this time and to find out more about Get Berkshire Active please visit their website.

Free Red Cross online training for volunteers who are responding to Covid-19

The British Red Cross has made available a free short online training course for volunteers in charities and community groups who are responding to Covid-19, such as shopping volunteers. The course takes under 30 minutes to complete and includes a short quiz at the end. Community groups and charities may like to use this as part of their training for their volunteers. To get the best out of this course, we would recommend that it is used as part of a safer recruitment and induction process.

You can access the free Red Cross Training for Coronavirus Response Volunteers here.
Here are some top tips for safer recruitment:
  • Ask volunteers to provide names of two referees.
  • Check whether the role requires a DBS check and the level.
  • Try and have a face-to-face video with the volunteer to go over the role, ask questions and check ID.
  • Provide them with a role description and your volunteer policy.
  • Give them information about your organisation’s public liability insurance and ensure that they understand this only covers them for activities they carry out in line with the role description.
Let volunteers know:
  • About any training you are providing and when and how they complete this.
  • How they keep people’s information confidential.
  • The contact details of their supervisor.
  • How they can report any concerns, including safeguarding concerns.
  • What to do if they start feeling unwell or have caring responsibilities and who to contact.
Don't Put Off Going To Your GP If It Could Be Serious

Doctors and leaders in Berkshire West have stepped up a campaign to remind non coronavirus patients that surgeries are still open and need to see people who have any serious health concerns.

The call comes the days after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons people must not put off seeing their GP because this could lead to serious issues going undetected for too long.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant GPs, along with hospital teams, have had to change the way they operate to cope with the outbreak, prevent it spreading and treat many more sick people. However, there are fears these healthcare changes have deterred some people from seeking help for things like suspected cancers, heart problems and stroke.
Read the full press release:
Got feedback? We'd love to hear from you. If you have any comments or articles you would like to be included in the next edition please e-mail
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