Samaritans   OCTOBER 2020   

Ahead of World Mental Health Day this Saturday 10th October, Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot and districts Samaritans is reminding people to check in and support anyone who might be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic with anyone who might be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

At a time when looking after our mental health and connecting with others is more important than ever, the suicide prevention charity is sharing useful information to help people spot the signs that someone isn’t okay.

Centred around the belief that everyone has the ability to make a difference, the resources provide information on how to help someone having suicidal thoughts, what to do if someone is self-harming as well as advice on self-care and looking after emotional wellbeing.

Branch Director at Bracknell, Wokingam, Ascot and districts Samaritans, Chris Lindsay  said: “As the pandemic continues, we must remember to prioritise our mental health and stay connected with others. The age of social distancing has meant people are having less face to face contact so it can be much harder to spot signs that someone might be struggling.

Read more: World Mental Health Day | Samaritans Reminder

Royal Borough Christmas lights update |  Work to install the Christmas lights in Ascot, will begin in the week starting October 17th 


Work to install Christmas lights in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead begins this month, but the usual Christmas lights switch on events won’t go ahead due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

Councillor Samantha Rayner, deputy leader of the council, resident and leisure services, said: “Christmas is a very important time for local businesses and many residents, and the Royal Borough’s Christmas lights are a much-loved part of the festive season.

 “Sadly, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, and the uncertainty over when these will be lifted, we’ve taken the difficult decision not to go ahead with the usual live switch on events this year.

“The health of our residents, visitors, performers and volunteers is our priority, we don’t want to put anyone at risk and the nature of the switch on events makes it difficult for social distancing to take place and for track and trace to be used.

Read more: Ascot Christmas Lights | Installation Work Starts October 17th


Little Muddy Boots face to face lesson sell out! Parents desperate to include more outdoor play in their day...Since re-opening the Little Muddy Boots face to face classes after lockdown, the outdoor toddler and pre-school classes held at Jealotts Hill Community Landshare in Warfield have been fully booked with additional sessions being added due to demand really emphasising the ‘importance of outdoor play’ during this pandemic. “Children aged 1-4 are advised to spend at least 3 hours per day being physically active.” (NHS, 2020)

Parents have been really keen to get their toddlers and pre-schoolers back into a ‘normal’ routine since lockdown restrictions lifted; playing, learning and developing outside but most importantly
socialising after months of limited interactions for both children and their accompanying adults. We also know at Little Muddy Boots that “time spent in high quality outdoor environments has been linked to children having a leaner body and better night time sleep.” (Soderstrom, 2013) The outdoor environment is a great setting for the families with the fresh air and autumn sunshine.

Several changes have been made to the Little Muddy Boots garden to make it Covid safe. This has included individual family kits for each lesson, disinfecting garden tools and toys in between
sessions, social distanced seating and a new outdoor toilet - solely for the use of class members. The changes have been well received and everyone has just settled back into the garden as

Read more: Little Muddy Boots | Outdoor Play is Big Hit After Lockdown!


Cumberland Lodge, the charity based in a former royal residence in Windsor Great Park, is offering new opportunities to get involved in its growing volunteers network.

Founded in 1947, the organisation specialises in embracing ‘difficult conversations’ and ‘disagreeing well’, by bringing together leaders, influencers, students and young people for candid conversations on pressing social and ethical issues. It is based in a beautiful 17th-century house that was granted to the original foundation in 1947 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother).

As part of its charitable mission, it hosts a diverse and exciting programme of events throughout the year, including cultural and educational events for the local community.

There are currently opportunities for people with relevant skills and experience to volunteer by providing administrative support to the staff team, or helping to organise the extensive library and archive collections, or by having a more public-facing role in welcoming guests to events such as public talks and open days at the Lodge.


Read more: Cumberland Lodge Seeks Volunteers


The Royal Borough are warning about a Covid-related scam which is currently doing the rounds.



Pictured Above| Progress at Heatherwood Hospital | September 2020  | View From King's Ride Entrance Road

Work on the hospital at Heatherwood was considered essential works and has been allowed to continue through lockdown, although many processes throughout the site have had to adapt and change.

But thanks to the efforts of developer Kier and its teams, as well as Frimley’s own project team, there has been minimal impact and the new hospital’s final timeline has not been affected.

Work on the small roundabout on the Kings Ride road has been completed, and the reduction in traffic during lockdown meant that this work happened without any major impact on the surrounding community.

And all the while behind the scenes Frimley Health clinicians are developing new ways of caring for their patients to ensure the new Heatherwood will help the Trust continue to provide exceptional care in the future.

New hospital milestones:

  • Winter 2020 – Building made watertight
  • Winter 2020 – Alteration work begins on main roundabout
  • Autumn/winter 2020 – Power switched on in the building
  • Mid-2021 – Site handed over to Frimley Health from Kier
  • Mid-2021 to winter 2021 – Commissioning of the new build and decommissioning of the old site
  • Winter 2021/22 – Transfer of activity and equipment from old site to new building
  • 2022 – Old site handed over to Taylor Wimpey for housing development
Read more: New Heatherwood Hospital Still On Track Despite Lockdown!


SPAE - the Society for the Protection of Ascot & Environs, has issued a press release about the recent Government proposals.  In August the UK Government published proposals to overhaul the planning system with the aim of speeding up development and building more new homes.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said “These once in a generation reforms will lay the foundations for a brighter future, providing more homes for young people & creating better quality neighbourhoods and homes across the country. We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than before. Planning decisions will be simple & transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process.”

Most of the attention has centred around the proposed streamlining of the planning process but also announced were new targets for new house building based on a different method of calculating the need. The government intends to set a target of 330,000 new homes to be built each year compared with the current target of 270,000. SPAE is concerned about the possible implications of this because developers currently fall well short of the current target. It is well known in corporate life that if performance to a specific metric is falling considerably short of target the last thing to do is to INCREASE the target and make it HARDER to achieve. We believe that one likely consequence will be for the undesirable feature of so called “landbanking” to increase – where developers sit on land that they have acquired in the hope of achieving higher prices further downstream.

The table below gives an illustration on our local area. This clearly shows that,  not only that the targets have been considerably increased, but RBWM and Bracknell Forest have failed to meet the current targets over the last five years by some margin.

Read more: SPAE Expresses Concern About Government Planning Proposals