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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 having a fantastic summer and enjoy reading August's edition of Action for All - community and rural based news from Berkshire. Best wishes Gemma, Tim, Helen & Kate
Do you have a few seconds to answer an important question?

At Connecting Communities in Berkshire it is always important that we stay connected to the communities which we look to serve and help. We want to ask our wonderful e-bulletin readers to take a few seconds to answer the question below.

Thinking about the area you live in please identify the top 5 issues to you and your community from the list below:
Access to community facilities
Affordable housing
Climate change
Digital includion
Employment & economy
Energy & fuel
Health & wellbeing
Local decision making and leadership
Loneliness & social isolation
Mobile connectivity
Older people
Pandemic (Coronavirus)
Planning and land use
Young people

To record your answer simply click on this link:
Face Coverings at Village Halls

Our Community Building Advisor Kate Meads provides an update for volunteers and trustees that run Village Halls on the ever changing and updated government guidelines for re-opening.

Kate explains; "Village Halls are explicitly covered by the definition of Community Centres in the amendments to the Regulations that came into effect on the 8th August."

The following have been added to the list of 'relevant places' where face coverings must be worn (the numbering is where they have been added to the existing list of places):

5.   Indoor places of worship.
6.   Community centres including youth centres.
7.   Crematoria and burial ground chapels.
8.   Public areas in hotels and hostels.
9.   Concert halls, exhibition halls and other public halls.
10. Cinemas.
11.  Museums, galleries, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, and other indoor, or indoor parts of, tourist, heritage or cultural sites.
12.  Bingo halls.
13.  Public libraries and reading rooms.

However, the list of places exempted from this requirement has also been added to, and now includes:

1.  Premises (other than registered pharmacies) providing wholly or mainly medical or dental services, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractic, osteopathic, optometry or other medical services including services relating to mental health.
2.  Indoor fitness studios, gyms, dance studios, leisure centres, indoor swimming pools, water parks, funfairs, theme parks or other premises for indoor sports, leisure or adventure activities.

People taking part in activities in a Community Centre, including a Village Hall, that would normally happen in either 1. or 2. above, therefore, do not have to wear face coverings.  All the other social distancing rules clearly still apply.

Kate states; "The Health Protection Regulations in force at the moment put all the onus of risk assessment and compliance with social distancing on the organiser of the meeting and on the participants.  If either of these feel they cannot remain within the guidance for their particular activity it is their responsibility not to book the hall for this activity or not to participate in it.  Sorry if this sounds blunt, but in the end this is the case and VH Trustees should feel reassured by it. This should give some reassurance to Trustees."
Useful link;

If your Community Buildings or Village Hall wants to stay up-to-date with all the latest news, guidlines and advice please consider becoming a member of our Community Buildings Advise Service which will provide access to all this and support from our expert Kate. To find out more please e-mail
VCS Emergencies Partnership  

The VCS Emergencies Partnership is made up of a range of organisations within the sector and co-chaired by the British Red Cross and NAVCA. It aims to improve coordination at national and local levels before, during and after emergencies, helping people prepare, respond and recover. The VCS Emergencies Partnership is currently responding to the evolving Covid-19 crisis. Longer-term, the partnership’s goal is to establish a framework of response for future local or national emergencies.  Read more on the VCS Emergencies Partnership website.

Request support in emergencies - There are times when there is not enough local capacity to provide the support needed in an emergency. The Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership aims to fill that gap. If local councils for voluntary service, local resilience forums and local authority hubs cannot provide the support a local organisation needs, the VCS Emergencies Partnership can step in to facilitate provision of that support. Read more and request support here. 

Questions we will be asking about the government's planning proposals
by Phillip Vincent, Action with Communities in Rural England

The government’s white paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ is strong on radical ideas, but leaves much to further guidance and legislation, raising some fundamental questions for rural communities

Rural communities have too often been marginalised through the planning process. Some are debarred from housing and economic development leading to the loss of low income and young households. Others have been forced to receive development of a scale and type that is inappropriate and does not meet local needs.

Over the next few weeks, ACRE will examine the Government’s proposals to assess whether the planning changes outlined today will allow all rural communities to secure the development they need to thrive. ACRE's response will be based on the following questions:

Will the proposals allow all rural communities the opportunity to grow at an appropriate rate and be sustainable?
Will they address the acute shortage of affordable housing in many rural communities?
Will they support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs in rural areas?
Will they provide the physical and community infrastructure essential to inclusive and cohesive communities?
Will they ensure rural communities are equipped to respond to the climate emergency?
Will they provide safeguards to ensure that development provides long term benefits to the community?
Will rural communities be able to withstand inappropriate development through a democratically accountable process?
Will rural communities, often without fast broadband, be able to engage with the proposed digital process for developing local and Neighbourhood Plans?
Will there be there be the financial backing that ensures the vision and needs of rural communities set out in Local and Neighbourhood Plans can be met?
Managing Personal Social Media Interactions During Stressful Times

There’s a lot of stressful information to process right now, with various, significant events taking up a major portion of our mind space at different times.

This helpful article talks through how to spot if social media is adding to your stress and choices you can make to reduce stress and improve your mental health.

Click here for the full article. 
Veg4Reading – sharing the local community harvest

A project in Reading to share fresh vegetables and fruit with hundreds of families and others badly affected by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis has made its first deliveries from their ‘home-grown’ harvest last week.

Basic food parcels have been a lifeline for many people in Reading who have found their incomes suddenly drop or who have struggled to access support during the crisis. Veg4Reading is a new project, created by RISC, that is supplementing the tinned and dry foods community organisations and charities have been providing, with fresh, locally grown fruit and veg from community gardens and allotments across Reading. To read more please click here.
How well are post offices delivering cash and banking services?

Citizens Advice has published a new report, Banking on it: how well are post offices delivering cash and banking services?

Their study is the most comprehensive research ever into Post Office banking. 
They found
● In a context of increasing bank branch closures, consumer use of Post Office banking has doubled in the past 3 years
● 25% of consumers and 20% of all small businesses have now used Post Office banking
● Overall service standards are largely good and customers are generally very satisfied
● But there are some problems - for example, 1 in 4 shoppers were unable to pay in a cheque and services couldn’t be accessed at 1 in 5 Outreach post offices

Citizens Advice are recommending a range of improvements that Post Office Ltd (POL) should make to the service including the cheque deposit service, privacy, staff training and ensuring the service is available at advertised times. POL and the banking industry should also work together to improve awareness of the service and ensure Post Office and postmasters’ remuneration for providing banking is at levels that can sustain the service. For further details of the research, please contact
Funding News August 

This month's funding blog contains details on the following funding opportunities. Just click on the links below for more information.

Asda Foundation Covid-19 Grants
The Asda Foundation support local grass roots organisations which benefit and involve local communities centred around Asda Food Stores. 

Hygiene Grant: This grant is focused on personal hygiene dignity, supporting residents/patients in facilities, who are struggling and unable to provide their own toiletries either through lack of funds or access to family support. 

British Red Cross – Hardship Fund
The British Red Cross Hardship Fund aims to address acute hardship and suffering to the those who are vulnerable, providing a short-term financial safety net for people most impacted by the pandemic.

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.

RAFT Transition Fund
This will support small charities and social enterprises to: adapt to the post-lockdown world and strengthen their organisations; plan ahead; become more sustainable; and refocus on the new needs of their beneficiaries. 

Coronavirus Community Support Fund
The Coronavirus Community Support Fund is closing to applications on Monday 17 August 2020 at 12 noon.

Crowdfunding with the Aviva Community Fund
Open to small charities and constituted community groups with innovative ideas that benefit their community; or which have projects that will ensure they can adapt or maintain critical services & infrastructure in response to the impacts of COVID-19. 

ESFA Community Training Grants
Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Community Training Grants, which are available to apply for on a rolling basis, are grants of between £5,000 and £20,000 for projects that will support unemployed and economically inactive people on their journey towards paid employment. 

Funds for Leisure & Recreation, Biodiversity & Buildings
The Trust provides funds to not-for-profit organisations for physical site improvements to:
• Provide, maintain or improve an amenity used primarily for leisure and recreation.
• Conserve biodiversity by the provision, conservation, restoration or enhancement of a
natural habitat or the maintenance or recovery of a species in its natural habitat.
• Maintain, repair or restore a building, other structure or a site of
archaeological interest which is open to the public.
Smaller projects grants are available to £20,000 and Primary
fund grants are available to £50,000. 

The Phoenix Fund
The Phoenix Fund (with funds from the NTL) supports Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) charities and groups that are working in the heart of their communities, providing essential and emergency services, support, and education tailored to the BAME community; and in particular, those communities affected by Covid-19. 

The Theatres Reopening Fund
The Theatres Trust has repurposed their small grants scheme to support theatres run by charities and NFPs to cover the additional costs of reopening after several months’ closure.

Chapman Charitable Trust
Grants are available for charities that support wellbeing, the natural environment and the arts through activities located in North Wales, London or South East England.
REMAP Berkshire is back!
Remap Berkshire is once again able to design and make bespoke gadgets and equipment for anyone with a disability or special need where nothing suitable is otherwise available commercially. 

As ever, there is no charge and no tedious forms to fill in - i.e. no extra load on referring professionals or charities.

The service has now been re-started after pausing during the lockdown. Remap's volunteer engineers are back at work, whilst adhering to strict Covid guidelines.

Amongst the assignments completed before lockdown were: 
•    A retractable wheelchair ramp allowing access from pavement into home;
•    A moveable rope gangplank-hand-rail for a stroke victim living on a narrowboat;
•    A retractable bracket for a wheelchair controller;
•    A standard bath seat adapted to fit a narrow bath, plus several of the ever-useful long-reach window openers and security-bottle-top openers.
You can contact Remap Berkshire directly at the or by telephoning 07790 127123 
Mental health anguish linked to rise in rural crime
article from Farmer's Weekly.

A rising tide of rural crime is causing mental anguish to farmers and threatening their businesses, a report has warned.

The cost of rural crime has risen by 9% to £54m over the past 12 months – its highest level for eight years, according to the NFU Mutual study. Crime in the countryside has risen across all UK nations and regions – and is expected to increase further, it warns.

Criminal gangs are stealing expensive pieces of farm machinery – but they are also taking smaller high-value items. Targets include GPS kit worth thousands of pounds which is then sold on the black market.

NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson said the coronavirus lockdown had initially led to a decrease in rural crime. But there were signs that criminal activity was starting to escalate as the economic impact of the pandemic began to bite. To read the full article please click here
Introduction to Community Organising Online course from Community Organisers Ltd

Full course over 2 Sessions (online):
24th August - 1.30 to 5pm (part one)
26th August - 1.30 to 5pm (part two)

Cost: £32.93 – £65.27 (CO20 festival rate)

About this Event

This course is a starting point for anybody who is interested in community organising. It will help you begin to understand what community organising involves and what it looks like in the real world. You will be introduced to the foundations of community organising: listening, power, and action.

Community organisers reach out and listen to people, then connect and motivate them to build their collective power. In this course, you will start to explore how people come together so that they can understand and take action on their concerns to build community and overcome social injustice.

You will learn about:
- what community organising is
- the importance of listening to build relationships and explore issues
- power in communities and why it matters
- what motivates people to act
- how to take your next steps in community organising

The course lasts for six hours and usually runs in one day, but we have split this over two sessions. Like all our training, it is both active and thought-provoking. It is designed so that everybody can take part and share their ideas and experiences

Please Note: This course is Quality Assured and to receive a certificate all sessions must be attended. 

To book tickets please use the link below:
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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