What a strange time we are living in; it doesn’t seem that long ago that I had never heard of the Coronavirus but what feels a short time later, we are living in the midst of the restrictions and challenges that the lockdown has brought to our lives.

Our learning curve has been steep…our focus at Community Circles is to help people stay connected to the things that matter to them and create opportunities for friendships to flourish through shared interests.  We know that connections to family and friends is so important and the sense of belonging that comes from having valued relationships in our lives is key to supporting our wellbeing, so the first thing we explored was how connections with loved ones was being maintained.

We saw great examples from care home colleagues who were using Facebook Portal to help people stay connected and entertained, through video calls with family and replacing in-house entertainment with virtual entertainment.  The NHS is working with tech firms to support connections to be maintained and as part of this work, Facebook is providing up to 2,050 of its portals for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings supporting people. You can read more about the scheme here.

We are really pleased to be able to share four of these with our colleagues from care homes and extra care in Wigan and look forward to sharing updates of the difference they are making very soon.

Together through our Circle Family colleagues in Ashton and Abingdon we have also shared some Amazon tablets with our members and as well as enabling them to connect with family and friends. They can also join with a wide range of activities and events through our new Facebook group, Circles Connected.

We needed to think about how we could support people to connect around shared interests but in a virtual way. Our tech savvy Connector, Becky, suggested developing a Facebook group.  Previously Ashton Circle and Abingdon Circle have been location specific, connecting people together in their local community, but our Facebook group means we can grow our Circle Family membership, connecting with a wide range of people and we now have members throughout the UK as well as Canada and New Zealand.  There is a variety of content in the group; mindfulness sessions, wellbeing challenges, recipe of the week, shared reading group, craft club, photography challenge and a whole range of conversation starters such as life stories, what’s for tea and wanderlust travel ideas.

Circles Connected is growing and our members are posting their own content, sharing ideas and building a virtual, inclusive community, join us here and share you ideas, we’d love to hear from you.