We’re working hard to continue delivering services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and to support our residents – and in particular those who most need our help.
On our website you will find information about where to find support as well as details of any changes we’ve had to make to services.
You can also keep in touch with us online, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Our Covid-19 Advice Bot, launched last month to help answer customer enquiries, is proving popular. We’re really pleased to report that, in the first 27 days of going live, the Bot helped an average of 237 customers a day and answered 1919 questions from almost 6,400 residents.
Over 400 of the questions were around small businesses and another 400 related to lockdown and to waste services.
We’re now working to make the Bot smarter so that it can answer more questions and looking at ways to make it even easier for our residents to access.
If you haven’t tried using the Bot yet, just click the purple icon on the bottom right hand corner on all pages across our website.
May Bank Holiday
Remember the early May Bank holiday is on Friday 8 May to coincide with VE day.
All waste collections will be as normal apart from Friday which will be collected on Saturday 9 May.
Please remember to have your bin, boxes and bags out by 6:00am or the night before.
Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs)
We are actively working with our contractor and key stakeholders to reopen the Household Recycling Centres (“tips”) in the near future, subject to getting further clarity from the Government regarding what constitutes an essential journey during this period. When we reopen, we expect some restrictions to be in place at the HWRCs to enable us to keep customers and site staff safe.
There may also be limitations on the types of materials you can send to the sites during the initial period of reopening, especially if they are suitably catered for via kerbside collections. We are expecting long queues when the sites reopen and will put in place additional measures to help us minimise impacts on the local road network.
Please look out for further communication from the Council next week, in which we will provide further details on our plans. We are grateful to residents for their continued patience and cooperation.
Community Support Hub
The Community Support Hub is continuing to support local residents who have no one else to turn to for help during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s also supporting the local community groups working across the district.
East Ilsley Emergency Response team and East Ilsley Parish Council are doing fantastic work in their local community to support people who need help with shopping, dropping off prescriptions and dog walking during the Covid-19 emergency. They even offer a telephone befriending service for people feeling lonely while they self-isolate. We asked them to share something positive with us – and they came up with this brilliantly creative montage of the Marvellous East Ilsley Super Heroes!
Newbury Baptist Church
This is a beautifully illustrated story about Albert the Mouse and Social Distancing that has been created by the Reverend Richard Littledale of Newbury Baptist Church, who writes children’s stories and is one of our fantastic community anchors.
We have set up a Community Support Hub Facebook page for volunteers across West Berkshire, whether they are part of an established community group or just helping neighbours, family or friends during this difficult time. Please like and follow the Facebook page to receive regular updates.
Join West Berkshire Libraries online to get free access to our e-library and a range of digital resources such as Ancestry and Britannica.
We have thousands of titles available, including e-magazines and e-newspapers too.
We’ve also got a range of digital activities for families and an online book group.
We are making plans to restore the library service to the public in phases, but in the meantime you can read our latest news update here.
Get Berkshire Active launches Mayathon
It’s never been more important for everyone to be active, stay well and feel connected. We are supporting Get Berkshire Active with their Mayathon which is a free initiative aimed at encouraging people to team up with a friend, family or colleague (virtually) to complete an unbroken streak of 26 minutes of exercise for 26 days starting on 1 May 2020. Your own version of a marathon! It can be any activity, any intensity and you don’t need to leave your home! Who will you challenge?
To stay active (virtually) together, download the free mayathon app: mayathon.com and tag us into your efforts on Twitter using the hashtag #mayathonbuddy.
For ideas and free resources to help everyone stay active at home and information about exercising safely, go to: sportengland.org/stayinworkout and follow #StayInWorkOut on social media.
Physical activity survey
All of our lives have changed significantly over the past few weeks and this includes our physical activity habits. Get Berkshire Active have put together a short survey to understand how to provide better opportunities for physical activity to keep everyone active now and when the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
Please help us shape the present and the future of physical activity in Berkshire and fill in out this short survey online.
VE Day Celebrations
Every year, we all pause to remember those who fought in the Second World War, or were affected by it, over the weekend of 8 – 10 May, when World War 2 came to an end in Europe.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day which we would have normally marked with events, street parties and gatherings alongside our friends, family and communities. With the current measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus asking us all to stay at home, people across the country will be remembering and giving thanks to the Second World War generation from the safety of their own homes.
There are still lots of ways you can get involved and show your support in marking the day on social media and via your digital channels.
To help you prepare your day, a dedicated “Get Involved” website contains lots of VE Day related resources such as recipes, a playlist and educational resources, aimed at Key Stages 2, 3 & 4, exploring the significance of VE Day.
Why not get creative and use our specially designed ‘Great British Bunting’ to hang in your windows. Bunting can be decorated with pictures of soldiers who fought on the frontline or those who worked on the Homefront, it could be your grandad in the Navy or your great grandmother who worked for the RAF. Or you could draw a poppy to commemorate the fallen, a dove to celebrate lasting peace or a rainbow to symbolise hope. The BBC has more guidance and inspiration you need to make your bunting from whatever you have at home.
Make sure you tag us @WestBerkshire and @BBCBerkshire in your pictures on social media and use the hashtags #GreatBritishBunting and #VEDay75 so that all the effort you put in can be shared far and wide.
Virtual Council Meeting
West Berkshire Council has introduced virtual meetings to ensure it can continue to advance its plans, take decisions and provide scrutiny whilst maintaining social distancing.
Meetings are hosted on Zoom, a video conferencing facility, and live-streamed on West Berkshire Council’s YouTube channel to allow residents to follow proceedings. The public are still able to ask questions but these must be submitted in advance in the same way as they are for meetings at Council offices.
The first virtual meeting in the Council’s 22-year history took place last week with a meeting of Personnel Committee and this week the meeting of the Executive took place on Thursday 30 April. You can view the Council meeting here.
New free online learning platform to boost workplace skills
A new online learning platform to help boost the nation’s skills while people are staying at home has been launched by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the GOV.UK website, called ‘The Skills Toolkit’. The new platform gives you access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up your skills, progress in work and boost job prospects while you are working, studying or furloughed at home.
Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and tools for using email and social media more effectively at work to more advanced training. All courses are online and flexible, so you can work through them at their own pace.
Celebrating the community heroes
During this Covid-19 pandemic we have seen people across the district in West Berkshire generously giving up their time, money and skills to volunteer out in the community while adhering to social distancing rules. Businesses, community groups and residents have gone beyond their call of duty and joined forces to ensure the district’s elderly and most vulnerable residents have access to food, medication and other supplies during this lockdown.
We are collecting all these lovely stories on our website so why not head on over and have a read how the Council and your neighbours are helping out in the local communities, no matter how big or small the gesture.