Like everyone, our world changed back in March when Scotland was put into lockdown, however we are delighted to say that our services continued. During this time it is more important than ever to support our members to look after their mental health and to reduce isolation and loneliness. We were lucky we had been undertaking Digital Champions training during 2019 and 2020 with many of our members and staff and this knowledge provided an ideal starting point to move a lot of activity online.
One to one phone calls and visits still happen when required, as do members meeting up as restrictions allow in line with our social distancing guidelines. We also carried out COVID risk assessments for our members, providing everyone with facemasks and regular updates on the national and local guidance, and introduced wellbeing plans.
Initially, we carried out a review of all of our members to see what equipment and wifi access they had and supported many to access phones, tablets and broadband as required. Then following a series of information sessions for parents and carers, we implemented a weekly digital timetable of activities to keep our members busy, connected and learning new skills. Some of the activities change every few weeks and some are long standing popular activities and they taken place over a variety of platforms to suit everyone, including WhatsApp groups, Facebook private groups, Zoom and You Tube. Our activities include exercise classes, weekly cooking tutorials, mindfulness, bingo, dancing, photography, creative writing, karaoke parties, cartoon drawing, craft lessons and much more dependent on members interests. At times, such as with some of the cooking classes, we also provided ingredient boxes to encourage everyone to take part.
Although this new way of working was a challenge, this was also a great opportunity and we have been able to deliver classes, such as money management, to many more of our members than we would have done in person, and all from the comfort of their own home. Some of our practices during COVID will be integrated into our work going forward, although we do look forward to the days when we can have our network members together again!
During this time we have also continued to expand and develop our services, for example with a new service in North Ayrshire starting in early 2020. If you think our services could help prevent isolation and loneliness in your area please just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org