In our 100-year history, Ecas has adapted to a lot of major world events, including the Great Depression and World War II. In the last few months, we’ve done it again. With the coronavirus pandemic making it unsafe for us to gather in person, we made the difficult decision in March to suspend most of our activities and services. Now, we’re adapting to life after lockdown.
Most existing befriending matches continued by phone or video call, plus we’re currently looking for temporary distance befriending volunteers. And, starting 17th August, our activity groups will resume online for that all-important blether and bonding, whilst getting back to their favourite activity.
“The goal of our befriending and activity groups is to help physically disabled adults feel less isolated, so we have been doing what we can over lockdown,” says Ally Irvine, Ecas’ Chief Executive. “I’ve been impressed by how resilient our clients have been through this even more isolating time, with all the challenges of shielding and social distancing. I’m thrilled our activity group members will be able to see each other again virtually.”
Ecas staff have been working hard behind the scenes to get our everyone set up for video calls so our groups (except swimming) can gather once more. Arts, crafts, music, reading and creative writing, yoga, computing, and seated tai chi, meditation and relaxation will all return with existing members and group activity leaders. We plan to eventually open up spaces to new members as well.
Not everyone had the right equipment to connect by video chat, so we’ve been supporting them with computer updates, software installation, and even borrowing computers if necessary. We’re arranging for art and craft materials to be delivered to homes, and training everyone on how to connect and participate with Zoom.
“It’s been rewarding to be able to set everyone up and see how even those who were tentative to begin with are now feeling more confident about connecting online,” says Ally. “And of course we look forward to getting together in person again when it’s safe to do so.”