No one could have predicted a global pandemic that would force the world to go into lockdown with no guaranteed end date in sight. This has, of course, come with huge challenges. From setting ourselves up to work from home, juggling work and home life, having to change course to find different ways to support beneficiaries, to having to get creative with fundraising.
Despite these huge challenges, charities have quickly risen to the challenge and are supporting their beneficiaries at a time when they’re needed most. We wanted to shine a light on some of the amazing ways that charities have scaled up their digital support in this difficult time.
In order to follow Government guidance, The Ramblers had to cancel all their group walks and other walking activity around the country during the lockdown. Aside from the daily exercise once a day, they could no longer promote walking in the same way, which is really hard for many of their members who rely on their group or independent walks for health, happiness and community.
In just two weeks they quickly pulled together a campaign, #RoamSweetHome, that aims to keep up the morale of their Ramblers community and encourages everyone to continue to be active in their homes and outdoor spaces (gardens, balconies etc) and on their daily walk, as well as connecting with each other as much as they can.
Photos from today’s #RoamSweetHome walk inspired by @RamblersGB: an iris display, an unfamiliar woods, and a street planted with pinwheels. Instead of tea and cake I had coffee and peanut M&Ms, with bacon treats for Pickle. 🥾🍰 pic.twitter.com/wS1xOqe1Uc
— Marilyn Terrell (@Marilyn_Res) April 29, 2020
They created a dedicated webpage where they are sharing top tips for staying active indoors through a series of blogs and also showcasing all the lovely things members are up to. They also developed a weekly email for inspiration, ideas and guidance to keep up their rambling spirit.
To frame all the campaign activity, they developed a step challenge and encouraged all their supporters to submit their weekly step count to them to help them achieve amazing things together in the coming weeks. People are climbing Everest up their stairs or doing laps of their garden to take part!
Our @RamblersGB #RoamSweetHome challenge is Mont Blanc & we plan to climb these steps daily to reach our target of 2028 flights! @healthywalks @DevonRamblers @activedevon @BeBuckfastleigh @WorksWalking @Trewern_K pic.twitter.com/TrZVgwq8ki
— Louise Trewern (@loulouscorpio) April 19, 2020
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH)
The Play team is an essential service at GOSH. They help seriously ill children through their treatment with techniques such as role-play, drawing and practising their procedures on toys. All of which helps them navigate their own treatment and feel more in control.
As all children are struggling with isolation during this time, GOSH launched The Power of Play Hub, which is a digital hub with free, expert resources, tips and activity ideas to help all children cope with the challenges they may face as a result.
We are delighted to invite you to our first ever Virtual Fundraising Gala event, At Home With GOSH! An evening packed with entertainment, hosted by @daraobriain and with performances from @JackSavoretti @CraigDavid and @EmmaB_Radio 🎉 Tickets only £25: https://t.co/zXQkrK6kKw pic.twitter.com/HgsKRV5kcx
— GOSHCharity (@GOSHCharity) May 1, 2020
As a central pillar of community life for many women in towns, cities and villages across the UK, the WI has had to adapt rapidly over the few weeks as the Coronavirus pandemic has developed. In true WI style, members have risen to the challenge of continuing their WI activities despite not being able to meet in person with #MyVirtualWI.
Many WI meetings, subgroups (book clubs, knitting clubs, film clubs) have been held virtually via Zoom or other video calling software. For those members who don’t use the internet, WIs have set up telephone trees and buddy-up schemes to make sure all members are being checked in on.
Alongside community efforts, WIs have been coming up with new ways to keep their members entertained as they’re not able to attend their regular meetings. St Mary’s West Wickham WI in Kent hosted a cook-along for members via Facebook Live. Manchester WI started a project called #WhatWImDoingNow and are asking their members to share what they are up to via social media and challenge two other WI friends to do the same.
Thank you @emmafc74 for a brilliant and insightful virtual @ManchesterWI on deaf awareness. Feeling more confident in how to make my meetings more accessible and inclusive for deaf people. And thanks for the sisterhood sign language! #WhatWImDoingNow pic.twitter.com/W47uwlCly0
— Melissa Surgey (@MelissaSurgey) April 28, 2020
As lockdown has meant that people are having to work from home as well as look after their children and help with homeschooling, NSPCC quickly developed a coronavirus hub on their website. This provides a central point for their advice for parents and carers, whether working from home with their kids for the first time or supporting children with anxiety due to coronavirus.
When the world is unfamiliar and frightening. When friends are out of reach.
When school was your sanctuary. When home isn’t a safe place.
Whenever they need us.
We're fighting for #EveryChildhood. pic.twitter.com/8mP3GnppbD
— NSPCC (@NSPCC) April 15, 2020
The Bike Project
The Bike Project refurbishes second-hand bikes, donated by the public, and then donates these in turn to refugees Whilst bike shops are counted as essential and can stay open during the current outbreak, the public may not feel comfortable travelling to a bike shop or may live too far.
For those who are experiencing technical issues with their bikes or need a service, The Bike Project launched ‘Virtual Dr Bike’. It’s an online virtual bike mechanic session led by their most senior technician, Stuart, who will support them with diagnostics, and coach them through any fixes he can support with.
It might be #AprilFoolsDay, but this is no laughing matter! We're offering free virtual Dr Bike sessions for #NHSHeroes. You can book online bike mechanics session and have Stuart, our very own Senior Technician, help you get cycling: https://t.co/guK2jOynm5
— The Bike Project (@The_BikeProject) April 1, 2020
Citizens Advice East Herts
Citizens Advice East Herts is a volunteer-based charity which offers free, confidential and impartial advice to local residents and workers on a range of issues. In response to Covid19, they had to create a home workforce from scratch with their volunteer advisors in just one weekend. They distributed work laptops and trained volunteers to provide advice over the phone or using a new webchat service.
Our face to face services may be closed, but our team is still here to help you and give free, impartial advice. You can get in touch in a number of ways:
📱 Phone 03444 111 444 or 1920 459944 ( leave a message )
💻 Email https://t.co/nw7JHnxMtY
🌐 Website https://t.co/oexVgo6kuG
— Citizens Advice East Herts (@EastHertsCAB) May 4, 2020
Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity
Rainbow Trust supports more than 2,500 families across England each year. The families that they support have often experienced high levels of stress for many months or years, and frequently report feelings of isolation and anxiety as they care for their seriously ill child. The current situation has intensified their vulnerability.
They’ve adapted their services in a number of ways. Sibling support has always been a significant part of Rainbow Trust’s support for families. With schools being closed, siblings of seriously ill children have lost an important outlet, where they would have normally been distracted or comforted by classmates and teachers. Family Support Workers are now giving regular video and telephone support to these siblings, to distract them, to brighten their day and listen to their fears. Support includes sharing of competitions, exercise routines, interactive cooking sessions, and storytimes.
For some parents whose children have recently died, their Family Support Worker is the only emotional support available to them as they face the deeply distressing prospect that they do not know when or how they can hold a funeral for their child. This support is given via video, phone or text as suits the family.
Our care team continues to be the bridge between hospital and home, relieving pressures on vital NHS staff.
Last week, we supported 564 families with emergency, emotional and practical support through a range of channels.
Please help us continue this care by donating today. pic.twitter.com/O2ovkyIdkR
— Rainbow Trust (@RainbowTrustCC) April 25, 2020
Chilterns MS Centre
Chilterns MS Centre is a therapy centre for people with MS. They provide physiotherapy, exercise classes, social groups, occupational therapy and oxygen all on a face to face basis. The government guidelines have meant that their beneficiaries are classed as vulnerable and they had to stop their face to face care before the lockdown started. They’ve developed new ways of working with a restricted staff (as some were self-isolating too) and this has meant embracing digital.
They’ve embraced zoom, made their own videos and their members have done the same. They’re now running live virtual classes to continue to provide support to those living with MS.
Join us tomorrow at 12.30pm for a virtual coffee and cake. Chat to other members and break the boredom of self-isolation (sorry – you'll have to provide your own cake and drinks 😄). Email email@example.com for the zoom ID. #gettingtogether #stayhome pic.twitter.com/eyIoTM8TT9
— Chilterns MS Centre (@ChilternsMS) April 28, 2020
OTR, which is a mental health charity for young people in Bristol, has had to shift their one-to-one and group sessions with young people to online. They are running sessions via Skype, Google Hangouts and even Whatsapp – whatever they can feasibly and safely offer with robust privacy.
They have also produced a whole load of online content, ranging from practical mental health tips to more ‘thinking outside the box’ clips, such as Italian lessons and an online ‘Pet-Together’, all with the idea of lifting people’s spirits and providing resources and ways to pass the time.
We're now open for sign-ups for online groups, including:
🤕 Mind Aid
🍀 Nature Works
— OTR (@otrbristol) May 1, 2020
The Children’s Society
The Children’s Society normally provides face to face support for thousands of teenagers who are experiencing really tough problems from mental health to criminal exploitation. With this no longer being possible they had to quickly move to digital platforms and get IT to kit out their frontline staff, as well as trialling new ways of working such as online support groups, video chats and calls.
'We have assessed every child’s needs to decide whether it is best to connect via phone, text or an online platform like Skype' 🤳📱💻 #Covid means the way we work with young people had to changed, here's how 👇 https://t.co/0WNf4k330U
— Children's Society (@childrensociety) May 3, 2020
But one example that stood out was how a Young Refugees & Migrants Practitioner helped a young person who had been struggling to get motivated and get out of the house. He is someone who really needs structure and is really engaged in college but now he spends all his time at home with a lot of time to think. He had totally lost his routine and so struggled to get up in the morning.
Sophie found a unique way to help him,
“I suggested we both have a walk. We both left our homes at the same time for our once a day exercise and walked to the nearest park. We chatted about what we could both see, what people were around if there were animals and nature in the park. I think it improved his mood quite a bit and I think we had conversations that we wouldn’t have had if we doing face to face work, we usually focus on casework.”