How are you doing? Thank goodness for the weather being so great, well until it broke recently. Most of our members seem to be coping really well; creating a routine, trying to keep busy with exercise, cleaning, gardening (for those lucky enough to have a garden) and being a little creative. It is understandable of course that people are getting frustrated and a bit bored at not being able to meet up at the usual coffee mornings and exercise classes, etc, but we will get there.
I have already prepared a risk management plan for activities and services, for when we can resume, and Trustees will be discussing implementation and timescales at a Zoom meeting in June, in conjunction with up to date Government guidelines. I will keep you informed as to when various smaller group activities might begin or when volunteers and staff can begin indoor home visits again. Try and keep focussing on those times to come; we will support and reassure both members and volunteers as much as we can, as we go along.
I thought it might be useful if I gave some general insights into the past couple of months as I have seen things here at CGN
We are now settling into a routine of regular shopping for people who have requested that during lockdown; some are CGN members and others are new to us. Support is needed because people are having to shield (often these are residents under 60 years of age) or stay indoors as they are in a vulnerable group. We are also dealing with one offs for prescription collection or other errands.
I sense also that callers are beginning to ask for more usual types of information eg borrow a wheelchair, numbers of tradesmen or Wiltshire Farm Foods, and we are still making referrals to our nursing and social services colleagues when we have concerns about an older member.
We asked our older members how they were spending the time during lockdown.
Volunteer Cathy telephoned 49 older members to check in on them and the following observations could be made. Many commented that they missed the company and the activities. Other members seemed to be making constructive use of the time in doors.
- making drawstring bags out of pillow cases for paramedics to put their uniforms in
- gardening, enjoying the sunshine
- knitting, reading, re learning to play piano
- exercising including walking or doing exercises off a written sheet / internet
- cleaning and de cluttering, painting and decorating
- Being creative through different media
Using technology. Some older members had taken part in Zoom time with family, church services, choirs and slimming world. Others belonged to What’s app groups down their roads, which was also a way of getting some shopping support if needed.
Finding company. Where possible members were having socially distanced chats with neighbours or other residents in their communal gardens. Older members who took themselves out for walks /cycle said they felt better for doing something outside the house. One chap said he had to get out as ‘he was going crazy’ staying in all the time. A few commented that they spoke to strangers when out and about, and this wasn’t usually the norm. They felt people on the whole were being friendlier, although some felt concern that others were not that good at social distancing, especially some joggers and people in the shops.
One lady said she tried to stay inventive and positive whilst getting out
- by exploring roads and cul de sacs nearby that she hadn’t really seen before
- noticing more detail – bird song, seeing funny names in car registration plates, talking to cats, birds and insects
- doing a little dance if she hears loud music from a house or a car- she made a young couple smile when she did that!
- by smiling at strangers
Another lady told me she is taking more photos of flowers and nature each time she goes out so she has a focus to the walk.
Recording Lockdown: Thank you very much to those of you who have shared your thoughts about the current situation on paper or sent in any creative work, (or photos of it) Once we resume activities we hope to have a small exhibition of that work. Please continue to email me or send anything in as it is so interesting to read and see. Have a look at Debra’s sheet on creativity as this may inspire you to have a go at something.
Staff: 3 Community staff are supporting some of our more vulnerable residents, checking in with them weekly or every few days, at the door, doing shopping, and delivering Morrisons food parcels. When the weather is good they also spend longer with them in the garden, socially distanced, having taken their own stool.
Volunteers : 49 volunteers are in touch with the 50 regular clients , whom they would normally home visit, and 19 volunteers are giving weekly phone calls to 95 older members, the majority of whom are usual attendees at the on site activities.
Shopping /errand volunteers : A core of 20 volunteers have been helping out with shopping , prescription collection and hearing aid battery deliveries, as well as using their daily exercise session to hand deliver the newsletters, small food item gifts from the local Unicorn store ( see Vanessa photo) and magazines, donated through Age Friendly Manchester.
Positive Living: Trainer Debra has been in contact with her regular 22 participants, finding that most were remaining fairly philosophical about the situation, though as reported above, desperate to find ways to keep occupied. Pairs of members were joining Debra in What’s app chats.
PPE : CGN has bought a supply of face masks and vinyl gloves for staff and volunteers, especially for use in shops or where the 2m distancing is not possible. A box of gloves was donated by local Celebrations shop.
Pharmacies: Trustee Kate had telephoned local pharmacies to offer any support from CGN volunteers but was informed by most that they were making use of volunteers signed up through NHS goodsam.
New ways of working
We are all learning very quickly how to use Zoom, and people seem keen to learn and enjoy this format. Some volunteers and Parents from the regular Tuesday Group have a weekly catch up, and CGN trustees held their first successful Zoom Committee meeting in May. The June History talk successfully went ahead via this technology, and we hope this will become the norm for other history speakers. Here’s a little reflection from one of the Tuesday group volunteers, Christine
As with everything at the moment our Tuesday toddler group has had to close but thanks to the wonders of Zoom we can still have our get together, albeit a virtual one.
Thanks to Rachel one of our volunteers we have a Zoom meeting at 10.15 am every Tuesday morning. Both mums and children and some volunteers are able to join in. Rachel leads the singing and we sing the songs requested by the children and we always finish with our marching song “The Grand Old Duke of York“. The mums and volunteers all get a chance to chat to each other and as they say “A good time is had by all”
Telephone befriending volunteers had a Zoom catch up last week with myself and trainer, Debra. This helped us further understand how volunteers and older members are coping, and what approach people are thinking about as the easing of lockdown begins. Opinions seem polarised at present with some members adamant they won’t really venture out, other than for a walk, until a vaccine is available, and others raring to get started.
Do you want to try Zoom? If you have a laptop, desktop, smart phone etc and want to have a go at doing a Zoom call we can try and help you. Alternatively ring our colleagues at Big Change on 0113 360 8877 and they can talk you through it; some of our members report they are very helpful and friendly. It is easier to set up and join than you think, and you might be surprised at how much you enjoy seeing and hearing people and joining in with history talks etc.
Community connections – Lockdown appears to have further strengthened some community connections and encouraged others to come forward with ideas or offers of support that need our help to get off the ground or expand. Examples here include:
- Volunteer and local resident Lisa Mather approached CGN for the names of local supported housing complexes and residential/nursing homes so that she could organise musicians to visit outside and entertain the residents. The visit to Ryland House in Chorlton is posted on the CGN website, and we can see how much joy it brought to people.
- Ex volunteer Abbie who is a member of Chorlton Bike Deliveries got in touch asking if we could promote 3 local businesses who would be using them to home deliver goods. CGN members later rang in to say that they have since contacted those shops to order goods from them
- Withington Audiology Dept were wanting to get a questionnaire out to local residents to gauge
interest in ‘virtual hearing clinics’, so we were able to get 100 of their questionnaires out with our newsletter.
Big Thanks: to everyone who has sent in a donation recently it is greatly appreciated. Also to Unicorn for their £300 Gift token, to Buzz for the 10 little kitchen garden packs, To Morrisons for the food parcels, to Gisele’s daughter for the plants and to others for gifts of magazines and cards.
Birthdays in June: Happy birthday to the following people celebrating this month;
Louise A, Louise G, Liz H, Albert, Richard C, Terry F, John P, Jenni W, Linda B, Fay G , Enid W, June D , Margaret O, And volunteers Mary O, Leo and Jenny R
Other information: I have enclosed a sheet about what to do if you have a fall. Those of you who come to Don’s Friday class will know that he regularly demonstrates to the class what steps you need to take to get back onto a chair if you fall or slip over.
Remember the office is still open on 0161 881 2925. Please telephone if you need any shopping doing, bill paying or prescriptions collecting or would like some regular telephone contact from one of our volunteers.
Energyworks at Groundwork Greater Manchester are offering telephone support to those that are self-isolating, vulnerable or high risk of covid-19. They can offer free support to people with issues relating to their energy including switching suppliers, pre payment meter advice and general metering issues, and understanding heating controls, including storage heaters. Contact them on 0161 785 7417 /7416 or email Energyworks@groundwork.org.uk
Finally: CGN was delighted to receive a letter and a Special Recognition Award Certificate from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester in recognition of ‘outstanding activity and contribution to the community’ during the C-19 pandemic. This was a marvellous boost to all the volunteers and community based staff who have given so much support and kindness to many local residents. Take care everyone, kind regards
Helen Hibberd, Co ordinator: E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: 881-2925
Chorlton Good Neighbours, Wilbraham St Ninians Church, Egerton Rd South, M210XJ