19th May 2021
Photo: Zoom meeting of the Mind Active Glam Girls
During the pandemic the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has worked in a number of ways to support the charitable sector and our communities. We were one of the first foundations to set up a dedicated covid fund and have now given out over £2million. We also decided early on to support organisations to adapt existing grants as they navigated new ways of working.
Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation:
“As the pandemic took hold we immediately announced two things; a dedicated Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund and that we would support organisations to adapt existing grants from us to deliver for their beneficiaries. Like many we have watched with huge admiration as charitable organisations have stepped up and delivered”.
One organisation that adapted quickly is Mind Active based in South East Northumberland. Mind Active work to combat isolation and foster well-being with older people in care homes or with debilitating conditions in their own homes. Their programme of community based group activities were hit by Covid restrictions as care homes locked down and clients shielded in their own homes.
Supported by core funding from The Kellet Fund at the Community Foundation and with many of their clients having little or no access to technology, they immediately set up a programme of weekly phone calls. The calls have continued for those unable to engage in other activities to ensure they don’t feel forgotten or abandoned. As lockdown eased in summer 2020 Mind Active reconnected with some clients in person delivering socially distanced activities in outdoor spaces including local parks, allotments, car parks, gardens and even conservatory doorways!
During the second lockdown Mind Active encouraged their shielding clients to overcome their technology fears supporting them with time and equipment loaned from Northumberland CVA and Choppington Disabled Group to use Zoom. Previously reticent clients became proficient ‘zoomers’ and numbers attending grew. More groups were created including a men's group supported by our Pargiter Fund. The groups participated in sing-alongs, themed events and quizzes. The online support was supplemented with packs sent in the post containing arts and craft materials, themed song sheets, reusable games and DVD’s. They also made sure their clients received birthday, Christmas and other celebratory cards.
Gillian Slaughter, Chair of Mind Active said
“Thanks to the generosity of funders, our charity team has excelled, delivered, overcome and succeeded in keeping our shielded clients connected in more ways than we could have ever imagined”.
Having witnessed the amazing take up of digital technology by their shielded community in their own homes and the wellbeing benefits enjoyed, Mind Active then encouraged care homes to take part in a weekly Zoom sessions. As more homes joined the programme the sessions were combined bringing different care homes together on the same calls.
As they prepare for the easing of lockdown they are still running a weekly programme of Zoom sessions, including Ladies group, men’s group, coffee morning, shielded community exercise session, and sing-along artist shows. The phone calls continue too.
Over the last year via calls, digital inclusion and outdoor activities they believe a conservative estimate of nearly 19,000 participant interactions across all of their client groups have taken place.