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Social Distancing restrictions have had a major impact on the Community Champions project, which is all about facilitating social connection. The Community Champions project has been adapted during the pandemic so that it can still offer its services to older people requesting regular social contact.
The project has 80 volunteers phoning clients, emailing or writing to them, which we know is making a massive difference in tackling loneliness. It is useful to offer these different contact methods as some people with hearing difficulties cannot use the phone, whilst handwriting is a challenge for others with arthritis and not all our clients are online.
Some clients have different volunteers ringing and writing to them as we recognise that each person evokes different conversations, and when you live alone there are a lot of hours to fill!
Over the summer 15 volunteers made socially-distanced garden/doorstop visits to their clients, but these have stopped over the winter. We recognise that there really is no substitute for face to face contact and clients have told us how much they value this real person contact
Zoom Gathering September 2020
We also hold monthly Zoom Community Gatherings and fortnightly Zoom mini-Gatherings for volunteers and clients who are online. If anyone is unfamiliar with the Zoom video-conferencing tool our digital volunteers can offer support over the phone.
These Zoom meetings have the advantage of enabling people to see others in a group. People can interact and share their personal news in a small group (6 people); they can also benefit from hearing from speakers in a bigger group or taking part in interactive sessions eg, quizzes and polls.
We have delivered activity bags to clients who are off line. These contain jigsaw puzzles, word searches, games, bulbs to grow, a project mascot and calendar plus some edible treats. The activity bags are to help people living alone who are not digitally connected to do practical activities to keep their brains supple and are also a visible reminder that older people are valued members of the local community. You can find out more here.
For Befriending Week 2020 we delivered Cream Tea in a box to all of our volunteers.
We haven’t been able to host our usual thank you events so we went to the volunteers.
This year more than ever our volunteers are making a difference, and we know that our clients would all agree that we have the best volunteers!
Community Champions operates across Harborough District in South Leicestershire. It is aimed at helping isolated or lonely people (over 60) to change their lives for the better. Community Champions empowers older people and helps them to regain their social confidence and connect with people.
Any of us could be affected by loneliness and this article talks about ways to cope if you are feeling isolated.
Have a look at our Community Champions Newsletters which give you more of a flavour of what we get up to.
We accept referrals from GPs, Adult Social Care, Care Agencies and family members. Alternatively you can get in touch with us yourself, to do so, click to register with one of our services.
VASL is keen to recruit volunteers to help to reduce loneliness. We interview all of our volunteers and take up references for them. We match volunteers to suitable clients based on shared interests and similar life experiences.
There is no charge for the project as it is funded by the National Lottery’s Communities Fund. The volunteers are paid travel expenses but give their time freely.
“When the newsletter comes, I sit and read it right through and I feel, ‘Well, at least I’ve got somebody, I’ve got some friends’.”
To find out more about how the Community Champions project was running until March 2020 please click here.
Contact Community Champions
Telephone 01858 439 262
Address: Community Champions, VASL, Torch House, Torch Way, Market Harborough, LE16 9HL