Nominate a Physical Activity Lockdown Hero

The ‘Berkshire physical activity lockdown hero’, a campaign celebrating the GBA Awards’ winners, united residents, communities and activity providers around the joy and importance of physical activity, keeping spirits high during the winter lockdown.

This year, as we are still recovering from the pandemic, the 10th GBA Awards will continue recognising individuals and organisations that contributed to a healthier and more resilient Berkshire. We want to thank those who have kindly taken the time to nominate a local hero already. We are thrilled to see so many people recognised for their amazing contribution to the community.

Nominations will remain open until 17th December, so there is still plenty of time to enter. If you know someone who has helped Berkshire through physical activity or sport this past year, please do help us to acknowledge them. The nomination can be for an individual (aged 11+), organisation, charity, club, community group or school of any size.

For further details please click here: https://getberkshireactive.org/forms/view/4697


Useful Information for anyone struggling with rising costs or bills in West Berkshire

Please see the information below of services that can be accessed for support on rising costs of food, energy costs, and the implications on the local community in West Berkshire.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) – Debt Centre for Newbury and the surrounding area.

We provide free debt counselling and take new appointment bookings for our Debt Help service via our helpline 0800 328 0006. The Newbury centre covers RG14 and 17-20 and we are booking appointments up to 3 months in advance. Christians Against Poverty has a network of over 300 debt centres operating in postcode catchments. To check what is available in a particular area use the postcode checker at https://capuk.org/i-want-help.

Our free debt counselling service normally takes place face to face in our client’s homes. Due to the restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic we were not able to see clients face to face, and we changed our debt counselling service to offer a telephone based debt help service. Since restrictions have been lifted we offer a hybrid service (telephone based and face to face) to help and support the clients through the process. We have worked hard with regulators to ensure that our service is compliant, and have taken care to ensure that it will work as well as it can do for vulnerable clients.

During our appointments we explain our service and gather together all the information about their income, expenditure and debts. Our head office debt advisors produce a financial statement/budget and options for the best route out of debt for the client from this information. We then explain and coach the client through the detail and options on their final appointment. We support them through this process and afterwards all the way to them becoming debt free.

Our client statistics show that 58% of our clients had waited a year before seeking help and 30% had waited 3 years. We do not want people to wait this long before seeking help, especially in light of the fact that 38% of our clients have considered or attempted suicide. Helping to identify those that need help early, and encourage them to contact us as soon as they get into difficulties, is where our referrers come in. The sooner we can help people the easier it is to get them out of debt and stay out of debt. All you need to do is give them our New Enquiries number 0800 328 0006 and encourage them to call us.

We work together with other local organisations like Foodbank, West Berkshire Community Baby Bank and Community Furniture Project to support our clients to provide emergency aid and more general support to those who need it.

West Berks Foodbank – will provide 7 days worth of food to each member in the household. These food parcel’s are currently delivered to the home address in unmarked cars delivered by DBS checked and trained volunteers.

When stock allows we can also supply toiletries, cleaning supplies, sanitary products, baby food and nappies as well as dog and cat food.

Treating each client as an individual we can tailor parcels to dietary and religious requirements.

As we speak with every client, we are then able to confidentially chat about other things we can do to help. Support them with getting help with concerns regarding missing or broken household goods, clothes or mobile phone top-up. Signposting them to other agencies regarding income maximisation, debt management, domestic abuse, getting school uniform,  and most other concerns. If we can’t help, we know someone who can.

Helen Dean at CCB (Connecting Communities in Berkshire) – delivers the CCB Family Home Energy Education and Advice Project, which gives advice and support to low-income families in cutting the cost of their gas, electricity and water bills, including discounts that are available, and dealing with utility debt. To refer a family, or find out more, email Helen at helen.dean@ccberks.org.uk, with the family’s phone number and email address, and any relevant information. Families can self-refer too.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire

General: 01635 516605

Carers/disability benefits: 01635 516609

Anyone that is in Sovereign Housing can also access the following support;

https://my.sovereign.org.uk/communities/communities


Information update for families struggling to pay for their gas, electricity and water bills

Written by our Energy Adviser and Project Co-ordinator Helen Dean.

We all know how hard it is for low-income families at the moment with winter approaching, dealing with benefit cuts, the rise in food and fuel prices, and gas and electricity costs having gone up from October this year.

If you would like a short training session for your team on discounts that families can claim for their electricity and water, and details of the telephone advice Helen can give to families to reduce their utility bills, please contact Helen at helen.dean@ccberks.org.uk, or call 0773 8887612. This update has been given to Social Services teams in West Berkshire, and has been very well received.


In November; ACRE Annual Village Halls Advisor Event

In November, Village Hall Advisors from 38 Counties across England came together in-person and online to attend a training event in Leicestershire.

The event expanded Village Hall Advisors knowledge on subjects including;

  • Making changes to Trust Deeds
  • New Charitable Incorporated Organisation Model Deeds
  • Disclosure Barring Service
  • Electric Car Charing Points
  • Parish Councils running Village Hall Charities as Sole Trustee
  • Dementia Friendly Village Halls
  • Centre for Sustainability – Energy Efficiency for Village Halls
Village Halls advisers from across England gather to share knowledge, training and hopes for the future

Our very own Community Buildings Advisor Kate Meads presented a session to delegates on how to run Hallmark Quality Standard and Certification courses online.

Kate said ‘the conference was just what we needed, and it is was great to get together in person to share learning and ideas. I feel very motivated and plan to share much of the learning with Trustees through our training programme during the next few months.’

Check out CCB’s President The Rt Honourable Lord Benyon, acting in his capacity as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rural Affairs, opening the event. Lord Benyon is also a Trustee of Englefield Village Hall. Here he talks eloquently about a ‘renaissance in village halls’ and the fantastic, useful advice and support that advisors like our Kate Meads and her counterparts provide.


Domesday Book for Village Halls – get your entry in now

Many of England’s 10,000+ village halls date back to the 1920s. To celebrate the contribution they make to rural communities, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has created this virtual ‘Domesday Book’ for village halls to record the work they are doing in 2021. The record will help make the case for sustained funding and support for village halls which will be especially important as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity)

“Village halls have been a crucial part of rural life for the past century. They provide a space for activities and events that bring people together, create a sense of community, reduce loneliness and support local businesses.

At a time when many village halls are closed because of coronavirus, it is especially important to recognise and celebrate the work they do. As such, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone involved with a village hall to sign this ‘Domesday Book’ and help create a record demonstrating how important these buildings are, and what is needed to make sure they survive in the future” (January 2021)

Please register your Village Hall in the Domesday book if you have not already done this.

Tell us what your hall is doing, the difference you are making to your community and any hopes you have for the future!