Agenda item

Reading Advice Network - Presentation

The Committee will receive a short presentation on the work undertaken by the Reading Advice Network.


The Committee received a presentation from Richard Harrison, Chair of the Reading Advice Network (RAN) on the work and achievements of the network since its establishment in 2013. 


The follow points were noted:


  • The RAN aimed to improve the quality of information and advice available in Reading, to make it easier for people to get the advice and information they needed and be a focal point for information and advice services.
  • A Quality Standard had been developed with the Council in 2016, which had recently been updated to cover staff and volunteers working from home.
  • RAN funded an independent assessor for member organisations to achieve a Quality Standard.
  • Two main activities provided were regular advice forums and a peer support group for member CEOs.
  • RAN currently had 20 member organisations that provided a wide range of services.
  • A booklet detailing information was available and had been provided to councillors. Information in the booklet was updated on an annual basis at the start of the Municipal Year.
  • Member organisations included Citizens Advice, Age UK, Communicare, the Welfare Rights Unit and The Mustard Tree.
  • Member operations were overseen by volunteer Trustee Boards.
  • In the last year members working with nearly 300 paid staff and 650 volunteers had provided information, advice and a wide range of services to nearly 16,000 people.  They had also secured over £4 million in additional income for clients.
  • Reading Council provided just under £1.7 million funding with a further £2 million secured through other sources.
  • Difficulties for members included: the problems and resources required to secure funding; income generating services operating below pre-pandemic levels due to social distancing; increased and complex demands; and staff and volunteer recruitment.
  • Members remained committed to supporting those in need in Reading, were trying to set up new services and continued to be a significant part of the solution to problems facing communities in Reading.


It was suggested that by the Council building closer relationships with RAN and voluntary organisations this would enable better support for people and communities in Reading. 


It was noted that organisations such as RAN and other volunteer groups helped make Reading a better town. The dedication and public service of the voluntary sector was commended. 


It was noted that demand for support with energy costs was increasing and was expected to increase further during the year.


The Committee thanked Richard for representing the work of the organisations and his presentation.