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Contributed by
Certitude

Overview

Certitude London is a pan-London social care provider working to support and improve the lives of adults with learning disabilities, autism, and mental health support needs.

Certitude supports people, who face multiple barriers, in building meaningful community networks and finding personal and professional development opportunities.

Recognising that people are often grouped into silos informed by their diagnosis rather than their interests and strengths, Certitude has developed a peer-led approach to delivering a programme of arts-based workshops and courses.

Most sessions are run by people with lived experience of learning disability, autism, and/or mental health support needs. All sessions are open to everyone across London, bringing people together through a shared interest in the arts rather than their labels and diagnoses.

The programme has been adapted to run online rather than in physical spaces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, Certitude aims to deliver this as a blended programme of face to face and online sessions.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since December 2019.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Certitude’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a person with lived experience of a mental health issue, autism or learning disability, I want to participate in activities with other like-minded people in my community
  • As someone with lived experience of mental health issues, autism or learning disability, I want to learn how to create content for art and craft sessions and facilitate groups online.
  • As someone who lives in London and may/ may not have lived experience of mental health issues, autism or learning disability, I want to meet and connect with new people through a shared interest in arts and crafts.

Software and tools used

Zoom

Zoom is a popular online conferencing platform with video, audio, and live text chat.

Features include the ability to screen share, as well as to share links and other media during a session.

Cost

Zoom offers a range of subscriptions.

The free ‘Basic’ plan allows unlimited one-to-one meetings but has a 40-minute time limit on group sessions.

There are also various options for paid plans:

Pro (£11.99/month/host) Business (£15.99/month/host) Enterprise (£15.99/month/host).

These plans contain increased options for participation and no time restrictions.

Zoom is also available at discounted charity rates through the Charity Digital Exchange programme.

More price options can be found here.

Considerations

Zoom is already a familiar platform to a lot of people.

The breakout rooms feature in Zoom is helpful for larger numbers of participants as you can split people into groups to allow for smaller discussions.

Screen share also allows the person facilitating the session to share a worksheet for everyone to follow along, such as a step-by-step guide showing the audience how to draw something.

Sharing computer sound can also be useful for music sessions.

There can be issues with some music sessions, such as when people are trying to sing at the same time and Zoom only picks up the loudest sound.

Consider access needs – for example helping people to source the materials they need in order to participate from home, as not everyone will have art materials readily available or be able to afford them.

Recipe steps

1. Create an internal team

Within your organisation, ensure your team can create a community virtually and meet on a weekly basis over video call.

Mobilise a team with the right expertise who also have a varying skill-set, so that the different needs of your project can be met. Keep a focus on learning as you go along and upskilling yourselves as needed.

2. Reach out to facilitators

Reach out to volunteers or facilitators you work or have worked with to see who would be interested in providing online sessions, or recruit new ones through arts forums and websites.

Identify everyone’s strengths in delivering the sessions, or supporting with the different aspects of the programme, and map the different interests that they have in order to build an idea of what sessions you may be able to provide and the resources it will take to do so.

3. Test levels of interactivity

Find out the extent to which your audience is engaging in the virtual world.

You can break this down through different levels of interactivity, such as posting on social media and reviewing likes/comments/shares.

Build this up to offer videos or worksheets that are more interactive, and then onto live workshops and longer courses.

Continually test and gauge your audience’s online interactivity and confidence, observe what works best for them.

4. Create learning logs

Compile your learnings within a shareable document where your team can record their reflections on how people respond to sessions like; what works, doesn’t work, or which topics times of day or week are the most popular. Make time to review these regularly and use them to iterate what you do and improve.

5. Provide training

As you choose the software that works best for your creative sessions, make sure key staff are comfortable using it. As a smaller group, learn cooperatively and through peer-to-peer support. From these learnings, you can offer wider training sessions for staff and volunteers. Record these training sessions, so that people can review or repeat them as needed.

Source tech devices for facilitators if they do not have the correct hardware required for the sessions, to ensure that your programme is accessible to all.

Offer training and drop-in sessions and develop guides on how to use Zoom or video conferencing software to your users to make it as accessible as possible to everyone.

6. Prototype your session

Test how your creative video sessions work with your immediate users - or a small pool of them - to identify any problems or learnings before opening the sessions to a wider community.

7. Shape content to continue engaging users

Look at how people respond and see what is interesting to your users.

Record attendance to understand what themes are more appealing or popular than others.

Understand that your users’ interests and abilities to participate vary considerably, and provide sessions that can be tailored to all types of people at the same time.

You can share polls within sessions to gauge what content your users would want to continue interacting with.

Guidance

Don’t rule anything out before you have tried it or considered how it could work.

Break down the steps of each session for your participant so that it’s easy for them to understand what will be happening in the session.

Iterative thinking really makes the difference in being able to innovate a new approach.

Trusting that it’s OK for things to go wrong and constantly looking at how you can improve is an essential mindset for success.

Risks

People not knowing how to use software can hinder attendance and group participation.

Unexpected internet problems can crop up last minute and prevent sessions from running smoothly – having two facilitators helps to mitigate this.

Thanks

Many thanks to Certitude for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Certitude and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 26th, 2021. Last updated May 12th, 2021