3 Student Community Champions at the Reading Town Meal in Forbury Gardens.

What better way to promote healthy living than by getting a whole town together?

That’s exactly what happened at the Reading Town Meal on Saturday 25th September at Forbury Gardens in Reading! Reading Town Meal is a community-powered event with an aim to celebrate and promote home grown and locally produced food. The event encapsulated everything green and glorious about Reading, from homemade jars of jam to sustainable gardens and even live music. It was a wonderful celebration of all things that make our town so diverse and interesting.

The event had attracted many students from Reading College who volunteered through helping at stalls and helped to prepare (free) food for all who attended. Suffice to say, the event would not have been as effective as it was without them (we would’ve been hungrier too!).

Many community organisations and charities were pleasantly surprised by the University’s presence, represented by Student Community Champions (SCC’s) Laura, Saif and Sheldon, creating an excellent opportunity to network. The SCC’s used this opportunity to speak to a diverse range of charities to understand their purpose and how they have a positive impact within Reading.

SCC Saif Maher said: ‘The work of these charities is something that I’ve personally never heard of and goes to show how much university life can feel isolated from the rest of the community.

One charity I’m excited to build a connection with is Depression Xpression who want to utilise the university to help spread the importance of mental health amongst young people. For me, that’s the best bit – charities like this have the ideas but we can provide them with the connection and point them in the right direction. Now that we have multiple relationships with local charities we can utilise them to improve the lives and experiences of not only University of Reading students but the local Reading community itself.’

Furthermore, the presence of the Student Community Champions helped to provide insight and awareness in people about life at the University of Reading and whether studying here is the right choice for them.

SCC Saif Maher said: ‘One mother was concerned that her son would struggle at the University of Reading due to being autistic. Sheldon and Laura helped the mother to feel confident about the University by sharing information about support available and the student experience.’

Being visible and approachable to the local community (and more importantly holding a game of ‘how many sweets in the jar?’ helped young people to ask questions about the university and understand the role of the Student Community Champions. Having a presence within the local community supports young people in helping them think about their next steps and it’s important we don’t underestimate the value of starting a conversation.

We cannot wait to see how our local community collaborations develop into flourishing relationships that add value to our local community.

Special thanks goes to Event Cycle who provided free goodie bags for the stall.

Here’s to the future of Reading!

– Saif Maher

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