In the early days of lockdown in March and April Reading BC and Wokingham BC both recognised the need for a coordinated response to some of the main needs, particularly for the most vulnerable in our communities: access to food supplies, prescriptions and emotional support all being high on the priority list.
They called together local partners including voluntary sector representatives and leaders of key agencies who could help meet these needs. This led to One Reading and One Front Door (Wokingham) acting as a means of identifying individuals in need and then referring on to those agencies best-placed to help.
The Mustard Tree, CommuniCare and Faith Christian Group became part of this core team and others in the Transform Reading network have all played key roles in handling responses. Katherine, CEO at Mustard Tree, says:
“We have been privileged to represent much of the church in Reading in these discussions and bring all our strengths to the table. For example we had conversations with Reading Voluntary Action who were keen for churches to help with the delivery of the food parcels requested through the One Reading hub. They decided on a safe process for doing the shopping and asked if we would be willing to coordinate delivery. A number of churches stepped up to the plate to be part of this, including All Nations, LifeSpring, Reading Family Church, Tilehurst Methodist, Churches together in Southcote, Greyfriars and Wycliffe. CIRDIC adapted to provide meals as takeaways for those they would normally host at sit-down meals, CCA have been supplying essential items to those in need, and Street Pastors have been out supporting people in the town centre “
Once the long period of lockdown in the Spring began to ease there was huge gratitude for all the amazing response coming from so many groups, and it is no exaggeration to say that God’s people in Reading have been at the heart of this:
“Thank You One Reading Community Hub: We are extending a big thank you to everyone involved in the One Reading Community Hub. Over 5,342 calls were made to the hub helpline – by residents requesting help with prescription collection and for emotional support. By far the largest number of calls were from isolated residents unable to get to the shops. Thanks to the hub and its team of volunteers, over 3,500 vulnerable received vital food deliveries. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the army of volunteers as well as the voluntary and community organisations who have worked tirelessly with us to ensure all of Reading’s vulnerable residents were – and continue to be – supported in extremely difficult circumstances over the past year.