Big Energy Saving Week

Big Energy Saving Week (21st – 25th January) is an annual campaign coordinated by Citizens Advice in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Local charity Connecting Communities in Berkshire (CCB) and others are partnering with Citizens Advice to put on events across the country throughout Big Energy Saving Week to encourage local residents to find out how to save money on their energy bills. Find out more on: bigenergysavingweek.org.uk.

We know that energy bills are a significant challenge for many people and Big Energy Saving Week aims to offer direct help and advice on saving money and energy this winter. Helen Dean, Energy Advisor at CCB is coming to Slough next week, we will be running a drop in session to help and advise people on how to save money on their energy bills at Langley Health Visitor Clinic on Thursday 24th January between 9.30am – 11.30am


CCB helping to tackle Loneliness and Isolation in rural Berkshire

CCB’s function as a rural community development charity means that much of our work is about developing and maintaining connections within communities. This community development principle is central to the theme of loneliness and isolation.

Plenty of research exists into the causes of loneliness and ways of reducing its impact. We know that people of all ages can feel lonely at times, even when surrounded by people. This is a priority issue for Government, and large sections of the voluntary sector are, and always have been, working to support people of all ages impacted by loneliness.

We have seen research that suggests certain characteristics of communities that can increase or decrease the likelihood of loneliness. This is something we are interested in testing out. We are looking at this research and the statistical data behind it. We are developing an understanding of the indicators that, in combination, might suggest higher or lower levels of loneliness than elsewhere.

CCB is currently working on a project focusing on loneliness and isolation in rural communities, using grant funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust and a generous donation from Redwood Technologies via the Berkshire Community Foundation. The project involves some mapping work in rural Berkshire to compare the areas where this data suggests differences in the likelihood of people feeling lonely, and will work with these communities to understand if people’s experiences match what the data suggests.

We are also looking at the kinds of activities, groups and opportunities for social interaction that are particularly effective at reducing the risk of loneliness, and will provide advice and guidance to any community interested in broadening the range of social activities available to people there. However, first and foremost we want to maximize the impact of the wide range of activities, services and support that already exist. Publicity and referral can ensure widespread awareness of what already takes place and helps to avoid duplicated effort and wasted resources.

The three principles behind our work on the theme of loneliness and isolation are as follows.
1. Ensure the sustainability of existing provision through appropriate referral and publicity activities
2. Support communities that are interested in better understanding existing demand, current provision and unmet need
3. When faced with the opportunity to set up something new, be creative and seek inspiration from other communities near and far

These principles will be set out at the forthcoming Loneliness and Isolation Conference being hosted by Richard Benyon MP in Newbury on the 8th February. We would like to encourage others to follow these principles. We also want to offer support to any rural community interested in exploring this topic and are always open to speaking with organisations from all sectors interested in working with us.


Village Halls Week: A celebration of rural communities

National Charity Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and their 38 member organisations including Connecting Communities in Berkshire are running a week long campaign ( 22nd to 28th January) celebrate England’s 10,000 Village Halls.

Village Halls are an integral part of rural communities but are often overlooked. Think back over the years; birthday parties, christenings, weddings and funerals. Key moments in our lives – all treading the boards of our Village Halls.

This year we think about how Village Halls provide a space for communities to come together, something ever more pertinent with the rising number of people effected by loneliness.

Wokingham Without Parish Council, working in partnership with Wokingham Borough Council and Places Leisure, is establishing a ‘fit for life’ fitness class for local residents over 55, with a focus on those who’ve not exercised before, or are trying to get back into fitness. There’s also a strong emphasis on promoting good mental health, with a social / interaction element, as the class will be followed by an opportunity for a tea / coffee and a healthy snack, and a chance to meet and get to know the other participants and make new friends.  

Free trial session on Wednesday 23rd January then; £3 per week for 12 weeks. 10.45 am – 12.15 pm  St Sebastian’s Memorial Hall, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, RG40 3BA

Rural communities in particular are seeing diminishing services and social areas, such as the closing of pubs and shops. When these community spaces disappear, it becomes harder to connect, meet new people and have that much needed interaction.

ACRE and Connecting Communities in Berkshire believe Village Halls play a huge part in tackling these issues, for example providing community shops and pop up pubs where there are none, as well as social groups for older and younger people alike.

From the 22 January to the 28 January 2019, every county will see a series of events to bring people together and celebrate these crucial rural spaces. The campaign is supported by Defra with an appearance in the week from Lord Gardiner of Kimble.

Events include performances from Ian McMillan, renowned poet and broadcaster and children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony.

In addition, the NRTF has commissioned stand-up poet Kate Fox to write and perform a piece celebrating village halls.

For a full list of events visit the ACRE Website: www.acre.org.uk



West Berkshire Therapy Centre’s Welsh Male Voice Choir Charity Night

Tickets are now on sale for the South Wales Male Choir Grand Charity Night, to be held in St Nicolas Church, Newbury, on 2nd March 2019.

Tickets are priced at £15 each. Proceeds from the evening will be distributed to local charities by the organisers, Rotary Club of Newbury. West Berkshire Therapy Centre will be one of the main beneficiaries. To purchase tickets please either visit the Corn Exchange or use the link https://cornexchangenew.com/event/sounds-of-wales

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions. Thank you for your interest and support,