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Contributed by
The Wish Centre

Overview

The Wish Centre is a London-based charity that prevents self-harm, abuse, and exploitation of young people. The charity provides a range of training for professionals and frontline workers in the fields of mental health, social care, education, charities, and community groups who support young people aged 10-25, and their families.

Before the pandemic, all of the charity's therapy and support programmes were delivered in face-to-face groups at the centre. The charity wanted to ensure that service users were able to access this vital resource during lockdown, so adapted the programmes for online delivery.

Three programmes are currently being delivered – sessions for the survivor, sessions for perpetrators, and sessions specifically for children.

Due to the different needs, the programmes use varying software for different purposes, but the charity has been delivering the work predominantly through WhatsApp and Zoom. A lot of the content that usually happens in face-to-face group sessions, such as videos and interactive whiteboard activity, can be conducted over video chat.

The charity sends out smartphones to those that need a device to access the service, with a pay-as-you-go SIM and data provided.

Because of the benefits of remote video support, the charity intends to conduct a hybrid model with the video option available as well as face-to-face sessions, once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Users and needs served

  • As a service user, I need to continue accessing support and advice in lockdown
  • As a service user, I need to access help and advice from my caseworker
  • As a staff member, I need to continue to deliver programmes and feel confident in doing so

Software and tools used

Zoom

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

Considerations

Although relatively new to organisations and service users, Zoom is now widely used

Zoom is relatively easy to use once staff have received some online training

It's easy for service users to join as all they need to do is click the link provided by the invitation

Sessions can be recorded for review at a later date

Users have the option to password-protect meetings for additional security

WhatsApp

WhatsApp is a widely used mobile and browser-based application for messaging and video calling.

Cost

The standard version of WhatsApp is free to download and use.

Considerations

The Wish Centre uses WhatsApp for their one-to-one programme work

It can be used for group video calls of up to eight people

WhatsApp is simple, familiar to many people, and easy to use for video calling

WhatsApp video is a good option where service users are reluctant to use Zoom because they are not familiar with it

The platform is cost-effective

WhatsApp is best for one-on-one calling as it lacks features for group video chat

YouTube

YouTube is the world's most popular video-sharing platform, where almost five billion videos are watched every day worldwide.

Cost

The basic service is free.

Considerations

Facilitators can source videos from YouTube on a range of topics to show service users both before and during their sessions.

Recipe steps

1. Adapt all programmes for online delivery

Meet with staff to review the programmes that you offer and see where changes can be made to ensure delivery can be done digitally.

Investigate where the key challenges may be. Let your service users’ needs dictate your choice of platform. Some charities will find that only one service meets their service users’ particular needs. Other charities may be able to choose from a number of options.

2. Get your team set up for remote delivery

Ensure that staff are trained and feel confident delivering programmes to service users via the chosen platforms. Make sure that facilitators who still don’t feel confident are able to access additional training.

Explore training options and funding for your staff to bring their skills to the level required for the project. Record any training sessions you conduct for future use.

3. Ensure that service users are able to access resources

Assess the technological needs of users on referral, and what they have access to before starting. Some service users will not have access to some technologies, and this will affect how you can engage with them.

Consider sending physical copies of documents and resources where this may be a better option, and allow time for that.

For those with learning or literacy issues, ensure that a facilitator can help them fill out the form over a video call.

If users are uncertain about their ability to connect, consider providing a smartphone with pre-paid data.

4. Amend the programme agreement for remote delivery

Tailor contracts that require a particular disposition from service users in face-to-face sessions to apply to remote settings. For example, integrate into your contracts that service users should be in a quiet and safe place, and that they are by themselves, focused, and dedicated.

Specific guidance also needs to be set out for facilitators in checking that users are safe during sessions. Charities can find step by step guidance on digital safeguarding at DigiSafe.

5. Retain engagement with those who drop off

If users drop off from engaging with group sessions, try to approach your delivery differently by providing 1:1 support for those who are more comfortable with this. Regularly check in with attendees and assess any help they may need or feedback that the charity should take.

6. Gather feedback and optimise the process

Assess when it is best to ask for feedback for each programme.

Some feedback may be more effective on a session by session basis, particularly where there is a high dropout rate and disengagement from session to session. Programmes with lower drop-off rates may benefit from a questionnaire at the end.

Guidance

Using video chat is a great way to stay connected with young people, as they are likely to prefer it to a phone call. It also increases accessibility for many people who are unable to access face-to-face support for various reasons, whether they have childcare issues, can't access transport or are prevented from accessing services in person due to work shifts.

Another advantage of using video calling is that it can make safeguarding easier. Facilitators can visually check that service users are in a quiet space to access the session, and can assess their body language to ensure their safety.

Groups are effective but there is a place for one-on-one video support that allows people to feel comfortable and get emotional support on a more personal basis.

Risks

Digital exclusion is a risk. Do not assume that users have access to email or the internet. Assess their level of technological access before you begin work with them. For this recipe, perpetrators still need to be sent physical paperwork, which they usually keep with them in a file during face-to-face sessions, but making this virtual has meant they are sent the documents weekly through the post as many lack access to a printer, laptop, or email address.

Ensure that service users have access to the right information, such as videos and resources and that any links are correct before sending them out.

Be aware that there can be a drop-off rate for those attending online sessions, as it's easy to join and easy to leave. This is inevitable - be prepared to try and engage the people who have dropped out to join in again, and look at ways to adapt your delivery to ensure better retention.

Users in different programmes may have varying retention rates. Be aware of how this can impact your ability to assess feedback. For some programmes, a questionnaire at the end of the whole programme can be sufficient for service users to fill out. However, with programmes that have a higher drop-off rate, more regular check-ins and review sessions work better. Furthermore, when working with young people, they are better at giving feedback at the end of each session as opposed to after completing the whole programme.

Thanks

Many thanks to The Wish Centre 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 The Wish Centre 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 March 17th, 2021. Last updated March 18th, 2021