OPINION

Coronavirus spurs digital outreach from Martlets to connect the generations

Posted On 12 Jul 2020 at 8:23 am

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in this column about the importance of digital inclusion, particularly during this public health crisis where staying connected with other people is crucial for mental health.

One of the toughest aspects of lockdown for many has been feelings of isolation, particularly for vulnerable and older residents.

As a council we set up a community hub to help those residents with things like emergency food bank referrals, collecting prescriptions, food shopping and trying to reduce feelings of loneliness.

We’re able to put people in touch with organisations who can provide advice and support with keeping active and keeping in touch with others.

So please go the covid-19 section of the council website if you or a vulnerable person you know is in need of help.

There are many great initiatives in the voluntary sector to promote digital inclusion and combat isolation and loneliness.

I was really pleased to hear from Martlets last week who have had success supporting patients and carers get online, offering “Zoom Help Volunteers”, and having more people attending their virtual wellbeing activities than before lockdown, such as seated yoga, a Zoom Choir and virtual coffee mornings.

Martlets have also launched a new “You are Never Alone” initiative.

The project is linking schools across our city to local care homes, in the hope of fostering a kinder, more connected community and to minimise social isolation and loneliness for elderly residents.

Children of all ages are being invited by their teachers to create a letter, poem, piece of art or audio recording. This is then shared with a care home resident living near by.

Each school chooses how best to introduce the project to their students – and children of all ages can take part.

A team of Martlets volunteers will be delivering the letters and messages to care homes, following strict guidelines to make sure these welcome deliveries are safe.

This is a really positive scheme to build community links across generations and counteract loneliness.

It’s had lots of sign up and any interested schools or care homes can email youareneveralone@martlets.org.uk for more information.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

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