Reading part of a pilot for a new UK government emergency alert system

The UK government is introducing a new Emergency Alerts system that will enable people to be contacted via their mobile phone when lives are in danger.


To ensure the Emergency Alerts system works effectively, the government will be carrying out a series of tests. The first test will be in Reading on Tuesday 29 June, between 1pm and 2pm.

The Emergency Alert will be used to warn you in emergencies such as severe flooding or terror attacks.

Many people in Reading at that time on that day with a modern mobile phone that is switched on could receive a message, and their phone will ring and vibrate even if it is set to silent. It is based on location not residency so it will affect everyone in the area, even if they are just passing through.

Emergency Alerts are sent to all compatible mobile phones within an area of risk. They don’t track your location, need your phone number, or collect personal data. Only the government and the emergency services will be able to send them. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you’ll still be kept informed through other channels.

If you get an Emergency Alert on your phone, you’ll hear a loud, siren-like sound. A message on your screen will tell you about the emergency and how best to respond. You’ll be able to check an alert is genuine at

If you receive a test alert, you won’t need to do anything on this occasion. If you receive one in the future, read the alert carefully and follow the instructions.

Following the test, please complete the user survey at so we can gather and respond to feedback and make improvements to Emergency Alerts.

To find out more about Emergency Alerts, visit

National Thank a Teacher Day 2021

A national day to celebrate the work of teachers is taking place on Wednesday 23 June and Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) is encouraging Reading’s children and parents to take part.

The last year has been another challenging one for schools as COVID-19 continued to put additional work and responsibilities on teachers and support staff.

Children and young people may have been welcomed back to school but it has certainly not been business as usual.

Schools were responsible for setting up their own testing hubs for students and have been supplying kits for teachers and young people. Recently, some schools were also asked to help with the ‘surge testing’ campaign in parts of Reading.

School leaders have had to follow constant updates to COVID-19 guidance and review the procedures they have put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

The cancellation of this year’s summer exams has resulted in teachers carrying out assessments for each candidate.

All this is on top of their day to day job of teaching Reading’s children and young people.

Prof Dr Kate Reynolds, Director of Education at BFfC, said:

“We wanted to use National Thank a Teacher Day as an opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to Reading’s teaching staff for the way they have continued to step up to the demands which have placed upon them.

“Their responsibilities have gone far beyond teaching children throughout the pandemic and they deserve praise for their commitment and professionalism. But most of all, our teachers have shown how much they care about their pupils and how they have been constantly prepared to go above and beyond for them.

“On behalf of Brighter Futures for Children, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to all teaching staff in Reading for their hard work and dedication.”

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“National teacher day is an opportunity for us to thank all of the teaching staff across Reading’s schools for the tremendous work they do every day to ensure our young people get the best start to life they possibly can.

“We have so many inspirational, life changing teachers in our schools and we are proud to have each one of these here with us shaping the future of Reading. We all have that teacher we remember, the one that inspired us to believe we can do better, to go on to achieve bigger and better things than even we believed ourselves.

“Our teachers have always been there for our young people to trust and confide in, and over the last year this constant has been more important than ever in so many people’s lives. So, a big thank you to our teachers today and every day.”

National Thank a Teacher Day is a great opportunity for children, parents and carers to show their appreciation for their teachers.

Children are being encouraged to send their message of thanks on Wednesday 23 June by recording a short video clip, sending a free e-card, sharing messages on social media etc. There are plenty of ideas and activities for children on the national website at:

You can also share you message with us at @BFfC_Child on twitter and at @BFfCChild on Facebook.

Reading foster carers recognised for outstanding contribution and long service

A virtual awards ceremony was held to recognise the amazing work of Reading’s foster carers, new and old.

Brighter Futures for Children’s independent fostering agency (IFA) staged the online awards and dinner evening on Tuesday 8 June.

Foster carers were gifted a takeaway dinner of their choice to enjoy during the celebration of their fantastic achievements.

The fostering team were joined by special guests, including Reading’s Executive Director of Children’s Services Deborah Glassbrook, to celebrate foster carers who have been fostering for between five and 25 years, and newer recruits.

Ms Glassbrook said: “It is a vocation for our foster carers to make a lasting and positive impact on children and young people in care from Reading and elsewhere. We are so proud of them all.”

Brighter Futures for Children’s IFA, which is not for profit, also congratulated foster carers who are new to the team and have completed the required training, support and development standards, which is an essential milestone for newly approved foster carers.

Fresh for this year, the IFA introduced a new award for Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care. BFfC IFA staff were asked to nominate foster carers who, they believe, had gone above and beyond to support a child or young person in their care.

Nicola Gilham, Chair of the BFFC IFA committee, who presented the awards on the evening, said afterwards: “The number of nominations received for outstanding contribution demonstrates how respected and valued our foster carers are.

“Congratulations to all the foster carers who received an award. It was wonderful to be able to thank them for the vital role they play in the lives of Reading’s children and young people in care.”

Marjorie Small (pictured above) was one of three foster carers who received the outstanding contribution award. Marjorie has fostered with BFfC for four years and was nominated for her exceptional care of a young boy with complex needs.

The social worker who nominated her said: “Ms Small is a fantastic advocate for the young man in her care, especially when it comes to education.”

Ms Small said: “It was a privilege to receive this award. Every child deserves a loving home, and a forever home. It is always so rewarding to be a foster carer and it is an honour to be recognised for doing a good job. I wouldn’t change it for the world!”

If you would like to learn more about fostering in Reading visit:

Brighter Futures for Children’s fostering team take on the #JerusalemaChallenge

What better way to spend a sunny morning than in a stunning Reading park, learning the steps and ‘moves’ to take on the ‘Jerusalema dance challenge’.

That’s what staff and foster carers from Brighter Futures for Children did recently, joined by children and young people in care, who were on hand as unofficial teachers!

Fostering teams across the UK have been challenging each other to perform the dance routine, which went viral last year, to raise awareness of fostering and the fantastic opportunities it brings to those who decide to foster.

The song behind the dance means “go with me, protect me and take me home”, which resonates with the role of foster carers, who welcome a child or young person into their home until they can either go back to their family, stay in settled foster care or are adopted.

After being challenged by Foster4 Cheshire West, Chester and Halton and Warrington, Brighter Futures for Children’s fostering team danced away with the stunning backdrop of Caversham Court Gardens. They have now passed the baton and challenged Havering Council’s fostering team to do the same.

You can watch the video here:

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “The Jerusalema dance challenge is a fabulous, fun way to spread the word about fostering.

“Well done to everyone who took part in the Reading challenge which demonstrates the wonderful spirit of our foster carers. I hope the video is enjoyed by many people and helps raise awareness of our need for more local foster carers.”

Could you rise to the challenge and become a foster carer in Reading? We’d love to hear from you and, no, you don’t need to be able to dance!

To learn more about fostering, visit, call 0118 469 3020 or email

Invitation to deliver summer activities for Reading children

Organisations across Reading are being invited to bid for funding to provide activities for disadvantaged children throughout the summer holidays.

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), which provides education and children’s services in Reading, is co-ordinating the programme as part of the government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.

The company is interested in hearing from a range of providers who could offer enriching activities and healthy food for young people who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals.

The Department for Education is making up to £220m available to local areas to deliver the HAF programme over the Easter, summer and Christmas holidays in 2021.

BFfC is looking to work with a range of providers across the borough, including community-based and voluntary organisations, existing holiday care providers, schools, childminders, sports clubs and creative and performing arts groups.

Funding will be considered for organisations that can prove they can deliver:

  • High quality enriching activities which includes at least one hour of physical activity
  • A healthy, nutritious meal
  • Skills, activities/classes aimed at helping children and their parents to make healthy and affordable choices
  • A positive legacy that lasts longer than the experience

Deborah Glassbrook, Reading’s Director of Children’s Services, said: “The Holiday Activity and Food programme is an important scheme for children and young people who have some disadvantages, so we want to make sure we can offer the best possible range of activities.

“We are looking for local organisations that are able to provide fun and enriching activities and nutritious food which will allow children and young people in Reading to be more active and eat more healthily over the summer break.

“I know there is a huge variety of organisations in Reading that would be able to provide excellent activities for our young people and I would urge them to contact us now.”

Further information for potential providers of holiday activities can be found at:

Any organisations interested in working with the HAF progamme, please contact:

Note to editors

For more details about the Holiday Activities and Food programme, visit: