As with many Charities, social enterprises and community groups the Coronavirus lock-down has had a real impact both financially and the way that services are delivered to support people in the community, who are vulnerable and at risk. During the lockdown this is really important as vulnerable people are feeling even lonelier and cut off from family, friends and neighbours.
ActivLives is a local Charity that normally provides a wide range of face to face activities, for all ages, particularly older people and their carers, to keep people active and connected with the community and also provide volunteering and learning opportunities for people who want to share or learn new skills.
Ms Julie Stokes, ActivLives CEO, said “We had to close nearly all our activities down overnight, in Ipswich, East Suffolk and Sudbury. This was very upsetting and emotional for our staff and volunteers, as well as our members, many of them having to self-isolate as they fall in the ‘at risk’ category. So we were really grateful to receive funding from The Suffolk Coronavirus Fund to enable us to establish new and exciting initiatives to keep in touch with our members and volunteers, as well as, the general public.
The funding has enabled us to develop new ways of working to keep our groups connected, we have created WhatsApp groups, run Zoom Social and singing sessions and have set up a Befriending and health check telephone service so we can check our members are OK, if they need anything or just want to have a chat.’
An ActivSinger commented after a zoom singing session,’ I just wanted to say what a boost that gave my spirits. I’m at home alone, so bringing together a few of us and seeing their faces really made my day. Thank you ActivLives for organising.’
ActivLives also wants to support those people who don’t currently use their services, so people can join in with Activ@Home on the website www.activlives.org.uk , there are exercise videos, singing videos, quizzes and a reminiscence / arts project called ‘That Remind Me’ which includes a different theme each week and people can send in photos of what they have created themselves, with their family or people they care for.
The funding has also supported ActivLives, two ActivGardens, the People’s Community Garden and Chantry Walled Garden, which although are closed to the public, are still being maintained by staff and a small core group of dedicated volunteers who are growing vegetables for the local community and have established an on-line plant sales service, so that people who can’t get out, can order plants and have them delivered safely to their door.
A happy customer said, ‘We were thrilled with our plants and happy to support a good cause.’
If you would like to order plants please visit https://activlives.org.uk/activgardens/online/ or contact Susannah Robirosa on 07530407302.
Julie Stokes added, ‘The Suffolk Coronavirus Fund is certainly helping the voluntary sector and individuals to support those in need in the community during the Covid-19 lock-down, please donate what you can, it really can make a difference.’
ActivLives is currently looking at how they can re-open their activities in the future and what they will need to do to ensure the safety of their members and staff. For more information about the services ActivLives provides please contact 01473 345350.