Helping groups get online

What Is Stopping Your Group From Meeting?

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many people, particularly those with health issues and caring responsibilities. For those who usually get support from meeting with others, the virus has made getting together particularly challenging. Whether the government rules mean groups of a certain size aren’t allowed to meet face-to-face or whether group members are shielding to protect themselves or loved ones, the events of this year have caused many people to feel isolated and overwhelmed.

Lots of peer support groups have overcome some of these challenges by getting group members together online via video conferencing facilities, such as Zoom. There are some great examples of online group activities (some listed below) but for many groups there are barriers to being able to meet members online.


CRCC can help!

Here are three challenges groups might face that could prevent some members from being able to connect with others.

  1. Some of our members don’t have the tech.
  2. I have a tablet but don’t know how to use it!
  3. Now we’re connected, what can we do as a group online?

Read on to find out how CRCC can help groups overcome them.


1. Some of our members don’t have the tech!

In Cornwall, the following constituted peer support groups can apply to us for a group grant to fund running costs, including Zoom fees, or similar, and the purchasing of tablets to loan to members.

Mental Health Support Groups
Carers Groups (unpaid carers)
Dementia Support Groups

For other groups, including unconstituted groups, here are some suggestions of where you may be able to get funding for tablets.

Cornwall Community Foundation: If your community group or charity operates in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly and you are helping people impacted by the Coronavirus crisis, the Emergency Fund has grants immediately available to support your vital work. www.cornwallcommunityfoundation.com/introduction-to-grants/

Cornwall Council’s Community Chest Crisis Scheme – This scheme is primarily intended to help the small, un-constituted groups who are supporting local communities through the coronavirus crisis. https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/community-and-living/grants-advice-service/cornwall-councillor-community-grant/

WaveLength gives radios, televisions, and tablet computers, free of charge, to people who are lonely and can’t afford to buy the technology themselves. https://wavelength.org.uk/apply-for-help/

The Family Fund can pay for devices, such as computers and tablets, can have a huge impact on disabled children and their families. They work with Stone to provide their computers and tablets grant and can consider helping with computers, laptops, iPads and a variety of different tablets. https://www.familyfund.org.uk/computers-and-tablets


2. I have a tablet but don’t know how to use it!

CRCC’s Digital Outreach project has years’ of experience in helping individuals and groups learn how to use tablets, from switching them on to connecting with others to online shopping! They can also help with getting broadband and wifi.

Free IT Telephone Support Service
CRCC are offering free telephone support to help you use your laptop, tablet or smartphone and access online services whilst you are self-isolating at home.
For example, we can help show you how to:
•          use the basic controls of your device
•          stay safe online
•          surf the web for information and to keep informed
•          keep in touch with friends and family using email, messaging services or video
•          shop online
•          manage your money online
•          stay mentally and physically active using digital resources

Call us Monday to Friday 10am – noon and 1pm – 4pm on 01872 243557 or 01872 243534.


3. Now we’re connected, what can we do as a group online?

Whilst talking with others about some of your worries and concerns is a huge help, sometimes it’s just as beneficial to your wellbeing to do activities together. Here are some lovely ideas for things you can do together online:

Why not start a book club?
Each month, members take it turn to choose a favourite book and then tell the rest of the group what they love about it, who their favourite characters are and why.

Film club
Like a book group but chat about your favourite films.

Set up a singing group
Members who like to sing along but don’t want to be heard can always mute their mic!
Promas CIC would love to start a free online singing group for unpaid carers in Cornwall, so why not sign up. Contact them at info@promas.co.uk

Take up a new hobby
Royal Voluntary Service runs a Virtual Village Hall that offers free online activities, such as floristry, baking, dance, etc. https://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/virtual-village-hall/

Music group
Do any of your members play a musical instrument? Share your talent with other group members or play along with others who also have musical ability. Non-musicians can just listen and enjoy!

Web of the Week
WoW is a free weekly webpage specifically designed for the older generation to help people across the country find and enjoy safe, interesting and uplifting content on the internet – things like art exhibitions, music concerts, virtual travel, viral pet videos, recipes, TV, history, sport and games. www.weboftheweek.com

Online art classes
The Evening Standard recommends: BBC’s The Big Painting Challenge artist Pascal Anson is streaming tutorials on his own YouTube channel. Each half-an-hour class sees him teach everything from portraits and landscapes to still life and drawing hands and feet (notoriously the hardest part of the body to master on canvas) https://www.youtube.com/user/PascalAnson/videos
Or how about the Online College of Art and Design free art classes.  https://www.artcoursework.com/class-courses/free-beginners-learn-to-draw-and-paint-course/

Take up a free creative writing workshop
https://www.creative-writing-now.com/free-online-writing-courses.html

How about a fancy dress party?
Pick a theme, go full fancy dress or just ask members to wear a hat (as CRCC staff did at our last staff meeting!)

Or a virtual wine/ beer tasting session?
Eventbrite run virtual tasting sessions: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/online/beer-tasting/
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/online/wine-tasting/

Try an Escape Room!
Macmillan Cancer Support are hosting Escape Room experiences in return for donations to their charity. https://gamesnight.macmillan.org.uk/trapped.html


Remember: stay safe online!

Not sure how? Contact our Digital Outreach staff who can advise your group on how to safely use technology. Call 01872 243557 or 01872 243534 Monday to Friday 10am  – 12 noon and 1pm – 4pm