You know that moment of anticipation? When the waiting seems to last a lifetime and has you sitting on the edge of your seat in nervous excitement…
The moment when you’re waiting for that someone to arrive, that person you’ve been hoping for…
The moment where your heart starts to beat a little bit harder, a little bit faster, willing them to arrive…
You know that feeling you get when that person first comes into the room? When all of the energy, time and struggles that have led to this moment fade away in an instant....
The feeling you get when your eyes meet for the first time....
The joy that spreads across your face in the hugest of grins as you realise they are just as pleased to see you too.
Do you know what this feels like?
Well that, my friends, is the emotional rollercoaster of introducing an older neighbour to Zoom!
"I can see you, and you can see me too? Well isn't that something, it's so lovely to see your face again!" (Older neighbour Poona, 80 who has attended a whopping 19 virtual social clubs)
Amidst this current pandemic a further pandemic of loneliness looms and so, in this new lockdown life we find ourselves in, there is nothing more important than connection.
Across the Cares Family, team members, corporate partners and volunteers alike have been phoning neighbours to explain how our Social Club programme has moved online. Sometimes it takes nothing more than a quick phone call to get a neighbour set up, speaking face to face online is a concept that’s understood and this has been the case for 19 of our older neighbours who already use technology. However, there have been many other times where the prospect of having to download software and create accounts alone can be frightening, a solo sky dive without the support of a tandem.
At the #alonetogether Zoom Social Club, older neighbour Monique (75) who has attended 5 virtual social clubs so far shared, "I never thought I would like technology and have always avoided it. But I'm so happy I pushed through as I love it now and it lets me connect and have these fun experiences with you all."
Over the past few weeks, 43 older neighbours from South London have made it on to Zoom for a virtual social club. Supported by the brilliant team of 14 volunteers along with our SLC colleagues, 56% of these neighbours were guided over the phone in a 1-1 Zoom setup call. It’s down to the patience and kindness of this team and the tech-savvy skills of the other neighbours who were able to get themselves on Zoom which has led us to achieve a huge 198 older neighbour attendances to virtual social clubs so far and this number is only increasing!
“Esther successfully managed to download Zoom on her own but struggled with the concept of joining a meeting. I had to call back a few times after the initial call but once Esther described her query I was able to work out the solution and within two minutes we were chatting via Zoom! Once she was all set up we took the time to have a good catch up and a chat about the current situation with COVID, religion, keeping busy and so on.” (Deborah, 29, younger neighbour and Zoom volunteer)
The privacy and security of neighbours is really important to us so once a neighbour has successfully set themselves up on Zoom, they are invited to a Zoom install party. Here they learn about security measures they can take to keep themselves safe online, developing technical skills in the process. Older neighbour David has taken particular delight in the ‘rename' function to keep his identity protected and his neighbours amused, showing up to virtual social clubs as George Clooney and more recently, John Wayne!
“Well you’ve got to be a bit clever with it haven’t you? It makes it more fun!” (Older neighbour David, 75, who has attended 13 virtual social clubs so far)
Supporting the older neighbours to get onto Zoom has increased connection so much further than we could have imagined. As neighbours increase their confidence using Zoom they have been able to use their new skills in other ways, like Madeline who is now able to join in with her virtual church services and Bev who is now able to catch up with her friends and family. There have been so many of these positive stories of connection far beyond South London Cares.
“I didn’t know anything like this existed just using my laptop! We might not be able to be there physically but we can still keep in contact and see each other. It’s very good!” (Older neighbor Bev, 69, who has attended 13 virtual social clubs so far)
And for those neighbours who have chosen not to download Zoom or are unable to, they have been able to take advantage of our new ‘dial in’ function where they can join the Zoom call on their phone. This has been a great way to connect neighbours who aren’t able to get online at home. Watch out for our upcoming blog on this new feature!
We’ve just completed our first full month of virtual social clubs and the programme has been epic. From Desert Island Discs to Quiz Club, Script Reading to Live Drawing and even a Cares-wide Disco across the country. Neighbours have united in connection and conversation through Zoom in 30 virtual social clubs. And it’s not just the older neighbours who benefit, it’s our younger neighbours, volunteers and facilitators too who are just as eager to see each other face to face and have a good catch up. As younger neighbour Lizzie (31) puts it “to see some of the regular faces from social clubs really made me happy”. What better way to lighten the lockdown?
So let’s take a moment to celebrate ALL of the amazing neighbours who have risen to this transition-to-Zoom challenge!
The courage it takes to face the beast of tech without any physical support and hands on help is HUGE. The determination it takes to keep trying and figuring out alien systems can be MASSIVE. So for every neighbour that gets themselves on to Zoom for a virtual social club, who has shown resilience in the pursuit of connection, that moment they appear on your screen for the very first time.. well. That’s unforgettable. That, is pure joy.
Posted by Enoch Adolfo on Friday 15th May 2020
Enoch designs and delivers Social Clubs across Southwark and Lambeth. Previously Enoch worked as a professional musician as a Drummer and worked on a start up in East London working on a cycling app.