Online communities combat loneliness
A third sector partnership is commemorating Get Online Week by unveiling a new video that demonstrates the positive impact of technology on people’s lives at home.
Social enterprise Weekday Wow Factor and disability charity Leonard Cheshire in Scotland have collaborated to deliver technological equipment and training to alleviate social isolation and loneliness at home.
Using this technology, participants have a coffee morning blether followed by a virtual disco where they each get to choose a song that they can dance to through the Zoom video conferencing app.
Through this partnership, seniors aged 60 and above have courageously taken steps to pursue a new adventure of learning how to use digital devices and video technology to continue activities. Participants have been very willing to add more skills on top of their familiarity of one-to-one phone calls with close friends and family.
Since March, it has enabled participants to stay connected and remain active at home – and widened their world as they can continue to meet their peer group, hold a variety of conversations, while still seeing each other and not missing out on non-verbal communication such as eye contact and smiling. The Weekday Wow Factor and Leonard Cheshire in Scotland collaboration has upgraded the fun factor to continue personal growth and develop new skills in times of uncertainty.
The heart-warming video was recorded during one of Weekday Wow Factor’s Tuesday morning dance sessions – which was staged to coincide with Active Aging Week earlier this month. Six months on from entering the digital world, the team dug deep for self-reflection on how pivotal technology has been for their development but, more importantly, staying connected to one another.
Pasna Sallis, Director of Weekday Wow Factor, said: “I am a technophobe and our participants continue to inspire me. We were all learning together, through trial and error and the kind, expert assistance from Leonard Cheshire in Scotland.
“Our daily group virtual chats and catch-up sessions have led us to dancing and walking all over the world from the comfort and safety of our living rooms. The digital skills can be applied to more situations and video technology will remain a suitable alternative rather than cancelling our future active aging events.”
The team of participants celebrated the rest of the week by dressing up to lift the spirits with country + western and gangster themes.
Irene Colville, participant of Weekday Wow Factor, said: “I resisted going online for a long time – I think it was the fear of going into the unknown. But after taking that first step, I was surprised that it wasn’t that scary at all and wished that I done it a long time ago.
“Being part of the virtual daytime disco has opened another door for me, proving you are never too old to learn new things.”
Laptops and tablets were provided to individuals during lockdown through Leonard Cheshire in Scotland’s Go Digital programme, which supports people to access and utilise the latest digital technology.
Gerri Tait, Digital Inclusion Coordinator for Leonard Cheshire in Scotland, said: “Discovering that Weekday Wow Factor participants were reliant on traditional means of communication with a lack access to technology, they were quickly feeling the effects of social isolation including loss of routines, lack of activity and loneliness.
“I’ve been so impressed by their positive mindsets, perseverance and willingness to try technology for the first time. Armed with a new tablet or laptop, and receiving support through video calls, they have made giant strides – from first learning to use Zoom to join Weekday Wow Factor’s online sessions, and pursuing interests such as social media, email and internet browsing.
“Pasna’s request during a Scottish charities webinar has led to a very productive collaboration.”