Mental Health Mates are offering support

Liz Nicholls

Reading

Abby Lacey set up Mental Health Mates – Reading after needing help herself, the support group helps anyone suffering as well as their family and friends

Founded in 2016 by author and journalist, Bryony Gordon, Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups, run by people who experience their own mental health issues, meeting regularly to walk, connect and share without fear or judgement.

In early 2019, being a fan of her writing and podcast, as well as suffering from anxiety for most of my life, I decided to check out Mental Health Mates. The nearest to me were about 20 miles in either direction, so after about five minutes of procrastination, I contacted them and offered to start my own group.

I know from experience that mental illness magnifies through isolation. I also know that being outside in nature is great for your mental health, so to incorporate walking and talking to someone, sharing with them or simply walking beside them – just connecting – is the first step to recovery.

In May 2019 I set up Mental Health Mates – Reading, organising bi-monthly weekend walks for people suffering from mental illnesses, along with their family and friends, in and around Reading.

We were lucky enough to have almost a year of walking together before the pandemic hit, but we’ve carried on walking when we can, and when we can’t, we meet bi-weekly through Zoom. The Zoom calls are a great way to check in, in a really informal environment. There is no structure to our calls – we chat about everything from TV to politics, from fashion to medication – we cover it all! There is never an expectation to talk and if you don’t want the camera on, that’s fine too.

We have built a great community of like-minded people, and we have visitors on the calls from all over the country as I, along with other walk leaders, actively advertise that all are welcome.

When we are able to get together, our accessible walks are as gentle or as brisk as the group would like, so we cater for everyone, covering about two miles over an hour.

We are truly spoilt for choice for locations in the area from beautiful lakes such as Dinton Pastures and Whiteknights Lake at the University of Reading, to the River Thames at Caversham. We’re hoping to expand our offering to west Reading too in the early summer too, so we can reach even more people.

If you would like to join Mental Health Mates – Reading please visit facebook.com/mhm.reading
Or for more information on support, visit mentalhealthmates.co.uk/support/


Share your local news with us here

Max & Ivan

Round & About

Reading

Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominees Max & Ivan, as seen in BBC One’s W1A and heard on BBC Radio 4’s The Casebook of Max & Ivan bring their show Commitment to Reading tomorrow (6th February).

Peter Anderson caught up with the hilarious duo…

Q. How did you both discover your talents for comedy & improv?

Ivan: “ Max grew up listening to, watching and reading comedy from an early age – he always dreamed of becoming a performer and through dedication and devotion he got to where he is now.”

Max: “ As for Ivan, we’re both hoping he’ll discover his talents soon…”

Ivan: “ Fingers crossed! That’s one of my talents, incidentally.”

Q. You met while studying at Royal Holloway. Does that mean acting and comedy is to some extent at Plan B?

Max: “ We both studied theatre, so this is Plan A! The fact that we don’t have a Plan B is what worries our parents the most (and us to be honest….).”

Ivan: “ Getting a real job is Plan B! And I’ve no idea what the next letter of the alphabet is, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Q. How well did you know each other before you came together at the radio station?

Ivan: “ When we met at an audition for a play (in the first week of university) we got talking about comedy and within a couple of weeks we started working together.”

Max: “ Our friendship and working partnership are one and the same and we look forward to it continuing (until the eventual day it falls apart in bitter, furious litigation).”

Q. Who are your inspirations?

Max: “ The League of Gentlemen, Brass Eye, Little Britain, Key & Peele, French & Saunders, Julia Davis.

Ivan: “ Max.”

Q. What can the audience at South Street expect from the show?

Max: “ If you come to see us at South Street you’ll witness the TRUE story of how I attempted to reform Ivan’s teenage band for one final gig on the night of his stag. It’s an incredible story that has to be seen to be believed, filled with an array of embarrassing photos and videos from our childhood.”

Ivan: “ It also made a number of publications’ Top 10 lists for best comedy shows of 2019 – so we can guarantee that it’s FUNNY! We won’t name those publications out of respect to the Round & About magazine, but feel free to Google – sorry, use a prominent search engine of your choice – if you don’t believe us.”

Q. I know Kieran has performed there before have either of you?

Ivan: “ We haven’t! However when we asked Kieran Hodgson (our director) what to expect, he said: ‘Reading South Street is one of my favourite venues, with a discerning clientele and access to a really good canalside Pizza Express for post-show nosh. You’re also under directorial orders to see the weird muscly lion statue during the afternoon. Break a leg! Kieran. X’

Max: “ His directorial brilliance knows no bounds!”

Q. How do you go about writing/creating the framework for the show?

Max: “ With our previous shows, it’s always been a torturous process involving far too many hours spent in a small room drinking lots of coffee and scribbling on hundreds of Post-it notes.”

Ivan: “ We thought that seeing as Commitment is based on a real story it’d be different this time round… but unfortunately not.”

Q. If you had free rein to pick another actor to join you, who would you pick?

Max: “ We have a running joke with James Acaster that he’ll one day appear halfway through our show as a neighbour, saying his catchphrase of ‘hello boys’ – it’d have to be fulfilling that weird dream I guess!”

Ivan: “ You never know – he might turn up in Reading!*”

Q. How do you relax away from acting?

Ivan: “ We write an eight-part geo-political comedy thriller podcast of course!”

Max: “ Why not give it a listen: it’s called Max & Ivan: Fugitives and it’s nothing like our live show…”

Q. I guess there is a lot of driving between gigs, what do you listen to; music, audio-books?

Max: “ John, our tour manager and driver extraordinaire** is actually a trained musical director, so we’ve actually spent most of our travelling time together learning three-part harmonies to songs…”

Ivan: “ We’re quite tempted to spend our final tour date performing some rousing folk songs instead of Commitment (although we’re not sure what the good people of Norwich would think of that).”

 

* he won’t.

**John’s driving is actually quite dangerous and when we’re not learning harmonies we’re reminding him how roundabouts work, or warning him that he’s about to crash into a parked car.

Magical Reading

Round & About

Reading

There are so many events going on in Reading for the whole family this month it’s like having an extra present every day!

It’s all set to be a magical Christmas in Reading – the lights have already been switched on, the big blue whale has paraded down Broad Street and ArtLine Street Market has showcased the town’s local artists.

December begins with Reading’s Living Advent Calendar until 24th when a host of magical events will take place every day ranging from sing-alongs to craft workshops, as well as a wide variety of shows to suit all ages – there’s so much to do some days have more than one ‘window’ to open! Full details at http://www.magicalreading.co.uk/project/readings-living-advent-calendar/ and funds raised will help local charities Homestart, Readifood and Reading Samaritans.

A show with a difference can be enjoyed at Yates in Harris Shopping Arcade on 16th December when Cinderella: A Wicked Mother of a Show takes over, described as “an outrageous site-specific show inspired by panto” you are encouraged to think “Tarantino meets Shameless, meets ELF” and all in a pub, sounds intriguing…

The Pentahotel in Oxford Road is holding a show to entertain the kids on 22nd with My Shadow and Me before it looks at Cinema in Silhouette where stand-up comedy meets shadow puppetry. And after you’ve enjoyed all that there’s more to see in The Snow Show with a variety of fun family performances in Broad Street from 4.30pm.

Children’s favourite Mr Tumble stars in Cinderella at The Hexagon (more in our panto feature) and A Christmas Carol with a twist is at South Street Arts Centre from 10th to 30th December.

All that and The Oracle will be transformed into a magical frozen wonderland where you can watch a series of wintry ice-capades on the rink on Saturdays at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

Make sure you leave some time too to take a break from all the fun and shopping for a festive feet up at the many restaurants and bars in Reading.

Living Advent Calendar

Pride of Reading 2019

Round & About

Reading

Photo: Winner of the Chris Tarrant Award Sam Dixon with son Parker and left, general manager of sponsors The Oracle, Andy Briggs. Picture by: Emma Patterson

 

Amazing people from around Reading were honoured at the 16th Pride of Reading awards as tales of bravery, service to the community and special achievements were revealed.

Once again hosted by home-town boy Chris Tarrant, the glitzy ceremony at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre saw winners of 22 awards celebrated.

The event was attended by around 300 guests who after enjoying street food starters and a two-course sit down lunch enjoyed the afternoon’s awards hosted by Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas and ITV’s Mel Bloor.

Among the amazing winners earlier this month were Child of Courage Logan Edwards who underwent painful surgery to fuse his skull, Local Hero Ricky Prince who saved a man’s life after seeing him collapsed as he walked past and former councillor Jo Lovelock who was honoured with the Special Recognition Award.

There was barely a dry eye in the room when the Volunteer of the Year was posthumously named as Alice Driver. Her parents were given the award in her honour for her work with Reading Refugee Support Group and Reading PRIDE all while being treated for a brain tumour.

The winner of the Chris Tarrant award this year was Sam Dixon whose husband PC James Dixon was killed on duty in December 2017, when Sam was pregnant with Parker. PC Dixon’s motorcycle collided with a car in Hare Hatch and he died instantly.

Full list of award winners 2019:

∙ Business in Action (Over 50) sponsored by BDB Pitmans: VISA

∙ Business in Action (Under 50) sponsored by BDB Pitmans: Shinfield View Care Home

∙ 999 Award, sponsored by De Vere Wokefield Estate: White Watch, Caversham Road and Whitley Wood

∙ Special Recognition Award: Councillor Jo Lovelock

∙ Charity of the Year sponsored by Roc Search: Sport in Mind

∙ Community Champion sponsored Reading Football Club: Eddie Winship

∙ Smile of the year sponsored by BerkshireLive: Zoe Correa (AJ Making a ∙ Stamp)

∙ Family of the Year sponsored by Ikea: The Johnson Family

∙ The Inspiration Award sponsored by McDonalds: Richard Witt

∙ Volunteer of the Year: Alice Driver

∙ Reading’s Best Street sponsored by Haslams: Talfourd Avenue

∙ Local Hero sponsored by Green Park: Ricky Prince

∙ Employee of the Year sponsored by Reading Buses: Richard Deadman 

∙ Young Person of the Year sponsored by University of Reading: Nevaeh Small

∙ Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by The Purple Turtle: Luci and Mike Clayton Jones

∙ Cultural Contribution sponsored by M&G Real Estate:  Andrew Taylor (Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra)

∙ School of the Year sponsored by QWERTY: New Town Primary School

∙ Fundraiser of the Year sponsored by Cream: David and Julia Eversham (for Alexander Devine 

∙ Love Where You Live Award sponsored by Berkeley Homes: Turn Tilehurst Red

∙ Child of Courage sponsored by IQVIA: Logan Edwards

∙ Chris Tarrant Pride of Reading Award sponsored by The Oracle: Sam Dixon 

LoLo app

Round & About

Reading

How about being rewarded when you shop and eat? That’s the simple idea behind a new app – LoLo which has just launched in Reading.

The loyalty app encourages customers and businesses to be true to their high street and buy and eat at local retailers and restaurants.

And it couldn’t be simpler to use, all you need to do is download the app and you’ll get free access to £20 of ‘loyalty tokens’ to receive discounts at multiple participating businesses.

The mobile app has three functions: LoLo Local – for local high street retailers businesses, tradespeople and more all giving discounts by accepting local loyalty tokens; LoLo Eats – whether eating in or enjoying a takeaway at home there’s a discount to tuck into too; LoLo Mall – major retailers will offer exclusive discounts to members.

The app means shoppers enjoy discounts and businesses get to connect with customers to help them build creating vibrant communities.

LoLo co-founder and CEO, Ian Jones said: “The beauty of LoLo is the more local businesses and customers that join the free loyalty platform, the more they will all benefit.  Each time a customer makes a purchase with a local business using their loyalty tokens, they receive more tokens back that they can then spend again at the same business or redeem at another participating shop, mechanic, butcher or restaurant. LoLo is the gift that just keeps giving.

“Every time people spend money they are casting a vote on the future community they want. If we want vibrant local communities then we must support the local businesses who employ local people and pay local business taxes.

“When we spend money with international online giants we send the money away from our community and add to the local decline.

Supporting local businesses helps to keep the money circulating in our local community.”

You’re a winner and the business is a winner too – so what are you waiting for! 

Download the app

Reading gaol hug

Round & About

Reading

A mass hug is taking place at Reading gaol tomorrow (Sunday 13th) to show some love in a bid to save the historic site and it couldn’t be more timely.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the Ministry of Justice has put the building up for sale with interest expected from housing developers but many in the town want it used as an arts venue.

Campaigners have been working to save the gaol and a petition from Reading East MP Matt Rodda reached more than 6,000 signatures.

The hug is set to take place at 2pm with the idea being participants will hold hands and surround the prison with a “mass hug”.

There is interest from many groups in Reading including the Civic Society which wants to see the prison, where Oscar Wilde was locked up, used as a cultural hub for the town.

Theatre and Arts Reading wants to see the gaol feature performance space, an art gallery, a digital hub, maker space and a museum giving people the opportunity to meet for arts, crafts and cultural activities.

Artist Sally Castle has produced a new logo for the campaign which has been reproduced on T-shirts with many people expected to wear them today.

Register

If you want to join the hug you need to register, it’s free but organisers need an idea of the numbers

Guildford Book Festival

Round & About

Reading

Guildford Book Festival, 6th-13th October, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Over the years it has hosted some very well-known names but it began in 1989 with a free lunchtime event with an at the time little-known author, Sebastian Faulks. His first novel The Girl at the Lion d’Or had just come out, the first part of the French trilogy which went on to include the emotional First World War best-seller Birdsong and later the Second World War story of heroine Charlotte Gray.

Events this year include Chris Ryan (Electric Theatre, 6th October) speaking about his experiences in the SAS and how events such as Brexit may impact in intelligence sharing and our security, as well as talking about his latest book Black Ops.

David Suchet, better known as Poirot, will talk about his passion for photography, his life and career, with Michael Buerk (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, 6th October). Behind the Lens: My Life in Photos features images from his life which he’ll be sharing.

Monday 7th includes the start of a week-long creative writing workshop; Deborah Moggach and Nicholas Coleridge at the Literary Lunch; broadcaster Kirsty Wark will be talking about her second novel The House by the Loch and historian Max Hastings will be looking at Operation Chastise – The Dambusters Story 1943.

If you haven’t already got a ticket you’re too late to enjoy a coffee morning with The Countess of Carnarvon when she’ll be sharing secrets of Christmas of Highclere, aka the fictional Downton Abbey, but there are a host of other great events to enjoy on Tuesday 8th.

There are still a few tickets left for William Clegg QC’s Under the Wig – A lawyer’s stories of murder, guilt and innocence, John Craven’ sHeadlines and Hedgerows and Luke Jennings is talking about No Tomorrow, the second in the Killing Eve trilogy, now a hugely successful BBC series.

Among the highlights on Wednesday are a look at life on the glamorous French Riveria with Anne de Courcy’s Chanel’s Riviera – Life, Love and the Struggle for Survival on the Cote d’Azur, 1930-1944. Virginia Nicholson takes us into the 1960s with How Was It For You? Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s and there’s the chance to enjoy Cocktail Night with Signe Johansen’s Spirited – How to create easy, fun drinks at home.

Thursday puts the spotlight on Leonardo da Vinci with Ben Lewis’s book The Last Leonardo, Andrew Lownie shares secrets of The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves while Paul Arnott looks at Windrush – A ship through time and Professor Mike Berners-Lee examines the ‘very hot’ topic of the environmental and economic challenges we face in There is no planet B – A handbook for the make or break years.

Fans of Dirty Dancing – and who isn’t – will be excited by the showing of this eighties classic on Friday evening after Katy Brand’s talk on her book, I Carried a Watermelon – Dirty Dancing and Me which tells of the comedian’s lifelong obsession with the movie in her love letter to the iconic film.

Saturday is Readers’ Day with the mini festival in a day, which is already sold out – book very early for next year! There’s still fun to be had courtesy of Pam Ayres with her collection of verse, Up in the Attic.

Guildford Book Festival winds up on Sunday 13th with an extra session of Peter FiennesA Walk in the Woods, Steve Backshall shares his latest adventures in Expedition – Adventures into Undiscovered Worlds before it winds up with an evening with Louis de BernieresCaptain Correlli and Beyond.

More info

For details about all these events and more visit

Reading Rep

Round & About

Reading

A Reading theatre company is asking the town to make a simple click to help its chances of collecting up to £100,000 to boost funds for a new theatre and arts centre.

Reading Rep is fundraising and nearing its target of £400,000 for the converted building in King’s Road on the Reading College campus, a simple click on social media could boost its funds by £100,000.

Reading Rep is asking people to log on to the Persimmon Homes website, which hosts a £1 million competition to give away cash for under 18s to health, sports, education and arts organisations, and vote for the theatre company by 27th September. Cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those winning the most online votes.

Reading Rep artistic director Paul Stacey said: “We are up against lots of different organisations, but we’d urge people to vote for us as Reading Rep exists to provide access to the arts for all, including some of Reading’s most disadvantaged children.

“We currently perform in a small 50-seater space and the new theatre/arts and community centre will take us up to around 160 seats.”

Nick Thompson, executive producer, said: “We are very excited for our plans – the building to be converted is a 1920s’ former Salvation Army Hall which has massive potential. The benefits to theatre-goers will be immense – and crucially the space will include a permanent education and learning centre allowing disadvantaged children to access our work.”

A spokesperson for Persimmon Homes Thames Valley said: “Persimmon Homes is delighted to be joining forces with Team GB – the British Olympic Association – to give away over £1 million to help children in England, Wales and Scotland. 
 
“As an official partner of Team GB, we are extremely proud to be supporting the organisation in the run up to, and beyond, the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. 
 
“Building Futures, supported by Team GB, comes on the back of our hugely successful Healthy Communities competition, which in 2018 gave away more than £600,000 to support youth sport.”

The website is Persimmon Homes and people can vote once each day.

Mr Stacey added: “It takes such a short time to vote but the difference our new centre would make to the arts scene in Reading is vast. We’d like to thank everyone who has voted so far. Why not make a note in your diary to vote for us every morning and evening until the closing date?”

The voting closes at midnight on 27th September.

Reading Rep hopes to begin the conversion of the building soon with the aim of opening in spring 2020.

Get involved

Vote for Reading Rep here

Health clinic

Karen Neville

Reading

A new child health clinic has opened in Reading offering integrated services for families and children under five. 

Weekly well-baby clinics will be held, including advice sessions with the health visiting team, a self-weigh drop in service and  regular health checks by appointment. More services are planned to follow at the old Salvation Army building at the Castle Hill roundabout.

The health visiting service offers a universal programme to all families from ante-natal through to when the child reaches school age including assessments during the first 30 months of a child’s life.

Drop in well-baby clinics are also offered to families with children under five to receive support and advice on child health, growth and development.

The new central clinic in Anstey Road has been created as part of a wider review of the health visiting service across Reading.

Further changes are also planned for Southcote Community Hub, Sun Street Youth and Community Centre, Ranikhet Children’s Centre and Whitley Health Centre, Caversham Children’s Centre and Battle Library – check locally with those.

A duty health visitor telephone/email advice line will operate Monday to Friday. View the button below for a link to online resources.

Lead councillor for health, wellbeing and sport, Cllr Graeme Hoskin said: “The new Salvation Army child health centre will offer Well Baby Clinics alongside a host of other advice and support services for families in a convenient central Reading location.

“The review of the Health Visiting Service has focused on making the best use of limited resources and ensuring that those who need the service most have easy access to clinics either by foot or by public transport.

“The mandated five baby health checks will continue to be held in all our centres and the popular Duty Health Visitor phone line and email will also be available to families as well as support and advice on the Berkshire Healthcare website.”

Disability day

Karen Neville

Reading

Event at The Oracle promotes disability awareness

Reading residents are invited to a family event which aims to promote disability awareness, with a wide range of activities on offer.

Reading’s Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN) is hosting the Disability Awareness Day 2019 tomorrow, Thursday 15th August, under the theme of ‘Staying Healthy – Mind & Body.’

The free event at The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading will run from 11am to 3pm and will offer fun, interactive and informative sessions.

A wide range of activities will be on offer for all age groups and abilities, including blood pressure checks from the Stroke Association, lip reading learner sessions and hearing tests from Action on Hearing Loss, shoulder & neck massages, as well as musical entertainment.

For further information and/or additional support at the event, please contact  or call 0118 937 2383.

Simone Illger is chair of the PDSN (Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network) and a disabled Reading resident. She said: “There is so much on offer at our event this year – with some great activities and stalls offering advice and support. I’d really encourage people to stop by and find out more.”

Have your say!

Today is also the last day for you to have your say in a consultation called Active Reading which aims to help develop healthy, active lifestyles. To find out more and have your say