Throughout lockdown and beyond, our peer supporters have worked really hard to ensure people can still access support groups, even if that means online. Here, two of our peer supporters tell us about the experience of running their groups online, and the benefit it’s had for participants
Creative group with Faith
As a hands on group, we have had the task of taking our usually busy and crafty group online. The group are now meeting weekly via zoom video calls and have adapted our group sessions to setting weekly creative tasks to complete within our homes. So far we have covered discussions around our favourite poems and books, our favourite songs and paintings. We have also contributed to the NHS colouring posters by drawing in rainbows and other mindfulness colouring sheets. The group has also shared any arts and crafts they have created or completed during the lockdown period. We have also had discussions around our mental health journeys and what has pulled us through difficult times.
Those who cannot join us online are followed up with a weekly check in call to touch base and discuss any worries or concerns they have during this time. We have used this period to encourage people to start new hobbies or return to previous ones as a way to stay positive and occupied.
One client said
“ this is the one group where I can come and not feel like a service user, we are just all talking about the things we love and enjoy and don’t have discuss our issues if we don’t want to. This group makes doesn’t make you feel different”.
Thank you to Faith for your hard work and for all the people who attend!
Men’s Peer Group With Steve
So where do we start? How do you keep Peer groups together and for those who rely on these groups when Covid strikes? Back in November 2019 the 1st Men’s Peer Group was established when we all met in person on a weekly basis. During this time the Group was built up with regular attendance.
Things were building nicely, when Covid hit in March, which brought a sudden halt to the group, but not for long. A bit of Brainstorming, and ideas from everybody at Life links and we had a plan, which just grew. First thing we did was to call our peer group members by phone to make sure all were OK, and did they need anything to help them.
Following on from Weekly phone calls, on 2nd April the first Virtual Men’s Zoom group was Launched. Amazing enough we had 4 members join in, but we had a bit of work to make it work at this early stage, everybody was Learning. At the start, the Group commented that it was not as good as in REAL LIFE. But this was short lived. We then also welcomed Lucy to co-facilitate with myself. (Lucy as now gone on to Facilitate the Anxiety Group). Moving on we are still having our Zoom group, and everybody generally has forgotten their early doubts, we now have up to 7 or 8 members joining in.
Today this is the Norm, and the Group are open Honest, interactive, just as before, if not better. We helped to assist everybody (including myself) on how to get into this modern technology, From sending written details, by text, or email, to talking people through the process by phone, some of the group had limited IT knowledge, but they have all achieved in learning this new skill.
If you are worried about a technology barrier, please call us and we can support you with it. Some comments from the Members have been:
“IT HAS CLOSED THE GAP ON THE SO CALLED NORMAL TO THE NEW NORMAL.”
“ZOOM SHOWED ME THE WAY TO THESE MEETINGS”
“ZOOM CHANGED MY LIFE”