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.
The UK Government have recently published their Covid-19 Recovery Strategy, which includes a provisional timetable for changes to the restrictions that we are all experiencing.
You may be wondering what these changes have meant for our services and activities at ActivLives?
The changes that were implemented from 13th May (Step One), have made very little difference to what ActivLives are able to provide on a face to face basis. Although individually, we are now able to leave our home to exercise more often, drive further and even play some sports (such as golf), none of this changes are what ActivLives are able to provide in terms of projects and groups at this moment in time. This is due to the continued implementation of the social distancing rules and the restrictions on permitted social contact.
ActivGardens continue to be closed to the public, although a small team of staff and brilliant volunteers are still working to carry out essential work. We have however, taken this opportunity to launch our new on-line plant and produce sales with ‘ActivGardens Online’ https://activlives.org.uk/activgardens/online/
All other ActivLives projects continue to be suspended until further notice; these include all of our lunch clubs, exercise classes, inclusive sports groups and singing projects.
The next round of proposed changes (Step Two), are due to be implemented on the 1st June, these are also unlikely to change anything that we at ActivLives, are able to provide in terms of face to face services.
We are continuing to develop our on-line services including seated exercise routines, quizzes, a reminiscing project and sing-along sessions, which can all be found on our website at https://activlives.org.uk/activhome/
Be assured that we do plan to return to full operation, just as soon as we are permitted and of course, when it is safe to do so!
We will be working on our own ‘road map’ of how we can re-introduce sessions, in a safe and phased approach, when it is safe for us to do so. So please be patient and keep safe – We will meet again!
Julie Stokes – ActivLives CEO
18th-24th May is Mental Health Awareness Week and ActivLives is right behind the campaign to increase our levels of mental health awareness.
The theme this year is ‘kindness’ and what better time than this to be recognising the importance of being kind to ourselves, as well as to others.
During these uncertain times, paying attention to our own mental health is more important than ever. Some tips that we can all follow to help to improve our mental well-being during Covid-19 include: trying to plan your day, being as physically active as possible, finding time to relax, keeping connected with family and friends, making a note of things that have gone well for us and making sure that we get plenty of regular sleep.
If you would like to find out more about the campaign take a look at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/get-involved
The work of ActivLives is all about promoting health and well-being, creating connected communities and providing opportunities to learn new skills – all keys to increased mental (and physical) health.
If you are missing your Boccia at the moment, then why not give this a go? It’s a ‘stay at home’ Boccia competition that is being run by Boccia England. You don’t need to use proper Boccia balls – use something else (maybe rolled up socks?). A great way to work on your target skills. Don’t forget to send to post your scores by each Friday. Good luck!