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Contributed by
Arts Together

Overview

Arts Together is a charity that works to improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life of older people through the provision of participatory arts projects.

Before the pandemic, the organisation ran six small supportive ‘in-person’ groups in rural Wiltshire for frail, isolated older people using professional arts projects to provide the interest, stimulation, friendship, and fun missing from their lives and to reduce damage to their health and wellbeing caused by extreme loneliness.

During the pandemic, Arts Together developed a more flexible service, integrating new remote ways of working into their core activities.

Through the use of a newly developed system of hybrid service delivery, Arts Together has been able to reach older people through a combination of postal projects, supportive phone calls, social media channels, website projects, and Zoom workshops.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since February 2021.

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

Users and needs served

  • As a service user, I need a way to continue connecting with people while isolated
  • As a service user, I need to interact with people based on shared creative interests
  • As a member of staff, I need to continue delivering our services effectively

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

One of the key benefits is that members can get together and see each other again. Artists can use Zoom to run online workshops.

Zoom can be used in the future even when social distancing restrictions ease. This allows charities to reach out to users outside their immediate geographic area and gives service users the opportunity to interact with people who need to stay indoors due to health complications or lack of travel access.

Some members may not want to use Zoom. Users may need help to get set up and the technical problems can make users feel uncomfortable with going online.

Recipe steps

1. Trial Zoom sessions

Invite your usual in-person session coordinators for a training day to share ideas on how to run workshops and learn from each other to run effective sessions.

Use these learnings in a trial session where you invite members for a casual Zoom meeting.

Send emails to your users about how to get started with Zoom. In these sessions you can talk to your users about the simple functionalities that they need to know about, such as how to go on mute and how to turn the camera on and off.

Use workshop coordinators who are more confident and can then provide a model to other workshop coordinators on how to run a session.

2. Provide laptops

If members need laptops, search for funding to purchase them . You’ll need a team or member of staff to research, source, and deliver the laptops to users.

Not all users will need a laptop though. Some may be happy to join on their phones. Users can even use landlines to call into the Zoom meeting and interact with other people (without a visual component).

3. Send materials in the post

Send art materials in the post in good time before the Zoom session. For those who don’t want to take part in the Zoom session and would prefer to have manual instructions, provide clear and concise manuals so they don’t feel excluded.

Collaborate with artists to make sure that projects are adaptable both to Zoom sessions and for those following hard copy instructions.

4. Hold Zoom sessions

Every week, send an email without a password. In fact, strip back the instructions to get onto the call as much as possible to reduce the likelihood of drop-off in attendance.

Just before the session, have your volunteers call the users to check in and see how they’re doing. This can be helpful for their general wellbeing, as well as ensuring that their equipment is working fine.

Instruct users on how to use the material and then re-group in a session the following week so that users can share how they have progressed.

Don’t have too many distractions – have a white background and good sound quality to reduce frustration.

Guidance

Don’t be afraid of trying things. Make sessions as personable as possible – it’s okay when things go wrong and you can add a sense of humour to it.

Risks

Ensure that you are keeping service users safe. When you are sharing images and videos of users, ensure they know what is being shared about them, and also remove their names.

Make sure that you have conducted the proper risk assessments and be aware of data protection regulations and compliance requirements.

Points of contact

For further information about this recipe, you can contact:

Laura Bridges

Thanks

Many thanks to Arts Together 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 Arts Together 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 28th, 2021. Last updated August 6th, 2021