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Hidden stories from Reading's older residents 

We've been working with The Museum of English Rural Life (the MERL) and Younger People With Dementia to gather stories of our older generation, from seeking out photos to listening to individuals share tales of how they lived in 20th century Reading.

Read the stories on the MERL's website, here.

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It's Big Knit time!

Big Knit smoothie bottles with knitted hats

The Age UK/Innocent Smoothies Big Knit is back for 2021! So grab your needles and your yarn and get knitting smoothie hats for Age UK.

This is a perfect opportunity to take up a new fun activity in lockdown while also supporting us. Help us be there for older people who have no one else to turn to.  

All you have to do is knit as many or few little hats as you like, with any pattern you fancy, and pop them in the post to us at: 

Age UK Berkshire, Huntley House, 119 London St, Reading, RG1 4QA.

Alternatively, you can drop them at our office.  

Please note that for us to recieve any funds raised from the hats you create, they must be sent to or dropped off at our local branch rather than the national Age UK. 

To find out more about the scheme, and to download this year's knitting and crochet patterns, visit 

http://www.ageuk.org.uk/bigknit/

For more info on our participation in the project, read this news article.

Four-step plan out of lockdown

A detailed infographic of the government's four-step plan to ease restrictions and lift lockdown, by Wokingham Borough Council. 

Download here. 

 

 

COVID-19 Q&A

Click below to download a write-up of the questions and answers discussed at our recent COVID-19 and vaccine information session. 

AgeUKQ&ACovid180221.pdf

 

 

 

We have a new allotment site, and all are welcome! 

Dig in to our sessions and make some new friends...

Projects which aim to support people in the community with a wide range of social, emotional and practical needs come under the umbrella term ‘social prescribing’. There is evidence that social prescribing leads to positive outcomes for individuals who are referred by their local GP and social prescribing team to professionally-led community projects. Our local Social Prescribing team are Jason Bowles (Community Wellbeing Officer at Involve Wokingham) and Milly Randall-Davies (Social Prescriber) and they are working with Twyford Surgery to refer people to a new local project, Twyford Growers run by Age UK Berkshire.

Twyford Growers is based at the Hurst Road allotment site and the initiative came from Cllr Rohan Abeywardana. His inspiration came partly from a talk given to Twyford Allotment Tenants’ Association by gardening writer and founder of Life at No.27, Annabelle Padwick, about her work to create an allotment therapy site in Towcester and the benefits of allotments for mental health. Thanks to a grant from Twyford Parish Council and the backing of Age UK Berkshire, Twyford Growers is taking off.

We have all felt the benefit of being able to get outside during Covid lockdowns, and there is increasing research to show that spending time in nature is good for our mental health. It helps with stress relief, anxiety and depression. Christina Hughes Nind, an experienced horticultural therapist, will be leading the sessions on the plot; her aim is for people with low to mid-level anxiety and depression to experience the benefit to their mood, stress levels, and general wellbeing.

The sessions will be every Thursday, March – October (Covid rules permitting), 10.30am – 12.30pm. Christina will be assisted each week by Natalie Burton. Natalie has a plot of her own at the Hurst Road site and a wealth of experience working with groups. The team Rohan has brought together for the project includes volunteers with plots on the Hurst Road site who have, like him, felt the benefits of active involvement in growing produce.

The biggest challenge so far has been clearing the plot. Work started in October 2020 (respecting Covid restrictions) and Cllr Teresa Ramsden, Cllr Malcom Bray and Natalie have made good progress to make the plot more welcoming and user-friendly. They burned rotten wood, pruned fruit trees, filled rubble bags with broken tools, glass and disintegrating plastic and laid heavy-duty sheet plastic to suppress weeds. They even erected a shed.

There is going to be a raised planter with plants to make tea from, sweet peas, edible flowers, and lots of fruit and veg. It is not just about growing plants – the social side is important too. There will be a seating area for a socially-distanced teabreak, and encouragement to connect with other local activities, including with other plot holders.

The response to the project from other plot holders has been overwhelmingly positive and the team are eager for other residents, particularly those with defined mental health needs, to benefit from the friendly community atmosphere of the allotment site.

Christina said, ‘I am really looking forward to welcoming our first gardeners and to seeing the act of growing things work its magic.’

The team aim to receive their first referrals this spring.

If you or someone you know might benefit from this project, contact Jason Bowles at jason.bowles@nhs.net or Milly Randall-Davies at milly.randall-davies@nhs.net.

Alternatively, call 01344 304 404.

Cllr Ramsden helping to put up the shed on the new allotment plot. 

 

 

 

 

Don't forget to apply for your postal vote! 

If you want a postal vote for the local elections in May, you need to register for one by 5pm on 20 April.

To register, fill in this form https://bit.ly/3oJ0qtZ and send it to your local council. Find their details here: https://bit.ly/2MRNGns.

Make sure you have your say!

 

Exercise classes with Get Berkshire Active 

Get Berkshire Active have some free exercise sessions on Zoom specifically for older, frail, less mobile adults, starting the week of January 18th, 2021:

Monday 10am Chair Yoga

Tuesday 11am Gentle Chair Exercise

Friday 11.15am Gentle Chair Exercise

This programme of sessions will grow over coming weeks. All sessions are led by qualified instructors and are a gentle introduction with a warm up, cool down and time for virtual socialising at the end.

To book, email kirsty.heath@getberkshireactive.org.

Getting on Zoom can be a hurdle in itself, so colleagues from Mindset Massage have kindly put together an instruction sheet to help. Let Kirsty know in your email whether you would like a copy of this, and/or the code of conduct which details how Get Berkshire Active plans to keep individuals safe during virtual sessions.

 

 

Mental health resources to beat the winter blues

From the cold, dark days to the new lockdown restrictions and the long wait for COVID-19 vaccines, it's understandable to feel down in the dumps this January. 

If you are struggling with your mental health, please do reach out and seek the support you deserve. 

A list of some mental health charities and organisations which provide support and resources for various conditions can be found here.
Information about the NHS's talking therapies can be found here

One of the best ways to feel better is to talk to someone. However, it can be hard, especially in lockdown or if you live alone, to find people to talk to. If you'd like a likeminded friend to chat to regularly, take a look at our Befrienders page and request a Befriender today. 

 

 

 

Support us by buying your greetings cards! 

You can now buy your cards for all occasions from Making a Difference Cards where you can choose to have all proceeds go directly to helping us help older people.

If you're stuck for present ideas, you can also add a donation to us as a gift on behalf of your loved one. Every penny we get helps us immensely, so buy your cards now and spread the word! 

An older man smiling at the camera, wearing a Christmas jumper and a festive 'turkey' hat

 

 

IHASCO Support Age UK Berkshire

We are delighted to announce that iHASCO, based in Bracknell, will be supporting Age UK Berkshire as our charity business partner for 2020/2021.

iHASCO is a provider of high-quality Health & Safety and HR Compliance eLearning with a keen focus on creativity, quality, and most of all, simplicity.

Having local businesses support a local charity is incredibly important, particularly at the current time. We will work closely with the iHASCO team to ensure that older people in the area can love later life.

Tai Chi Online Classes

It is more important than ever to stay socially connected and active during this strange time. Both now possible from the comfort of your own home! 

Tai Chi classes are currently hosted three times a week online. At £5 per session you will be sent a link which will take you to the class on Zoom. 

Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise which helps improve balance, coordination and muscle strength, whilst also being a great way to see friendly faces in the community!

For more information contact steve@elitetaichi.co.uk or visit www.elitetaichi.co.uk 

Exciting New Project in Wokingham

Age UK Berkshire is working in partnership with Wokingham Volunteers Centre, The Link Visiting Scheme and Involve to deliver a new project that aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation in the Wokingham area. The project is currently recruiting for key staff members- if you want to make a real difference to older peoples lives please visit the jobs page:

https://www.linkvisiting.org/friendship-alliance

Age UK Berkshire awarded Charity Quality Standard

We are proud to have achieved the Age UK Charity Quality Standard (CQS) which recognises the high standard of our performance as an organisation.

The Standard is externally assessed and awarded to members of the Age UK network that have demonstrated they are well governed and managed; have a clear direction and strategy; and are committed to ensuring the well-being and safety of older people, their staff and volunteers.

We achieved the Standard following a rigorous examination of our work and a full day assessment visit by leading experts SGS.

Money matters for older people

Age UK Berkshire, in collaboration with local charities and interest groups, are running a series of information sessions around Berkshire offering financial information for the county’s older residents.

“Money Matters for Older People” sessions are completely free of charge and provide impartial information on relevant topics such as managing money, checking eligibility for benefits, and paying for care in later life.

To find out more or to book a place, phone Age UK Berkshire on 0118 959 4242, or email info@ageukberkshire.org.uk

Friendly Gardeners group in Reading

If you enjoy gardening and would like to make some new friends, why not join us at Friends Meeting House, 2 Church Street, Reading RG1 2SB on Fridays from 10am to 12 noon.

Phone 0118 959 4242 to find out more, or email info@ageukberkshire.org.uk

The first session is free, then a suggested donation of £3 each week. 

Refreshments are provided.

Are you a priority customer?

Age UK Berkshire are working with Thames Water and Scottish & Southern Electricity to highlight the benefits of their priority registers, which offer people over 60 some additional help in case of an issue with water or power supplies in their area. Customers can sign up to the scheme online, or ring the office on 0118 959 4242 and we will send you a leaflet with all the details. Other energy companies have similar schemes - for details, phone your supplier or visit their website.