ACRE and the membership with the support of its partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors have been thinking of how they can work together more to support the people of Reading especially those from BAME (black Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.
During this last two years with the lockdown ACRE has worked closely with partners like Utulivu Women, Reading Men’s Group, Women with Vision and members to promote online discussion and therapeutic conversations to help cope with the stresses and strains. These stresses and strains has been particularly burdensome because of the uncertainties and the consequences of the lockdown. We are all aware of the growing unemployment which has been increasing month since March 2020 when the first lockdown was initiated to try to mitigate the infections from this terrible virus that has affected us all globally.
So what has been going on and what are ACRE and partners planning for the future in response to the social and economic challenges that has been unfolding since last year? However before I answer this question I would just like to tell you a bit about experience during this time of the Covid lockdown. Prior to the lockdown I was working on a lucrative contract which I was hoping would open up new opportunities for in the environmental sector. My contract was through Capita Resources as a temp working with an arm of the NDA (National Decommissioning Authority), RWM (Radioactive Waste Management), this increased my learning and interest on energy and environmental issues, then all of sudden the lockdown kicked in and that was it; I lost my job.
So why tell you how the lockdown affected me personally? It is because I was one of those who was feeling very stressed out by what had happened to me especially as this was the first breakthrough I thought was opening up new opportunities for me looking over the horizon. In my disappointment and the stress of the lockdown I took up volunteering at ACRE working with the leadership to recruit more volunteers in anticipation of the future such as we are coming into now. I found myself working on a wide range of projects and activities which really helped me mange my stress and have hope for the future. It is the hope that has inspired me to want to share this with you and encourage us all to look towards new horizons. It is argued that the difficulties we face brings about some kind of lessons to learn and the opportunity to make a fresh start or even to enhance what one already does. Some of the projects are:-
- Developing a Community Well-being Hub
- Gardening and outdoor physical activity
- Volunteering Support Network
- Group Support Network
- Training in Volunteering and Trustees
- Volunteer recruitment and civic citizenship training.
- Mental Health First Aid and Suicide Prevention Training and
- Community engagement work
- Employment and Enterprise development support
These are a combination of training and skills development projects which anyone can benefit from, if they decide to become involved. ACRE and partners are open to working with existing and new members; individuals and families as well as in the wider community.