Bringing communities and families together: COVID-19

Picture of a laptop. On top of it is a smartphone with the Zoom icon visible. There are headphones connected to the phone
Communities have been putting their faith in technology to help them remain connected in this time of
physical distancing, and AbilityNet’s volunteers have been helping out. 

Our Wiltshire volunteer co-ordinator Myles, for example, has supported members of the local church in delivering a virtual service.

Due to COVID-19 the congregation couldn’t meet so wanted to host a virtual service online using videoconferencing software. They were keen to make it as simple as possible for the congregation to join regardless of their varying degrees of technical expertise. 

Myles helped set the service up using Zoom and invites were sent to the congregation with a step-by-step guide to joining the meeting via computer or landline for those without access to the internet or a device. 

Call our Helpline to get support from one of our volunteers 0800 048 7642

People were alerted to the service via Facebook, WhatsApp and in-person through a window in other cases.

They tested instructions to ensure the everyone understood the sequence.  

Zoom call reunites church congregation

Image shows someones hands holding an order of service

On the first call, there were 26 attendees, prompting the pastor to buy a subscription to Zoom Professional. 

The church is now running mid-week meetings as well as Sunday Services. 

They even reached a lady with OCD that had not been the church for years, she could now join comfortably from home and said: “it made such a difference to her day meeting with other people”.  

Since then our volunteer Myles has followed up with some individual support for congregation members including one lady without internet or any device.  

Call our Helpline to get support from one of our volunteers 0800 048 7642

Initially, she connected via her landline, but the drawback was that she could hear but not see people.  The church then decided to purchase a few tablets and MyWifi devices as this person was not alone.  

The scepticism that “I mess up anything technological” was overcome as Myles provided a short step-by-step video on the tablet, printouts of all the steps to join Zoom and support for the first few sessions to build confidence. 

The next crucial step is to connect her to her husband, who is in a residential home with dementia. She can’t visit the home and using the phone doesn’t always work for him to remember her.  

This client has been persuading another lady in the same situation to jump on board with the technology.

Staying connected using Skype

Remote connection to friends and family is key to the mental well-being of our clients.  Michael, a stroke survivor, was already an AbilityNet client from previous email issues.  

Our volunteer Colin, part of our remote expert team, contacted him to see how he was getting on during lockdown.  This timely interaction enabled Colin to talk him through setting up his new webcam, so he could Skype his nearest and dearest.  

Watch a video of our AbilityNet LIVE! event on How to use technology to keep in touch with family and friends

Once the webcam was set up, a remote TeamViewer access session was initiated to install Skype, adjust the camera and mic, and help him with the basic functionality.  

Michael said “I had used the service a couple of times before and like each of the other occasions the knowledge, patience and expertise of the gentleman who assisted me this time was outstanding. A brilliant organisation.”

Helping charities work together

Collaboration and partnership work has become even more essential.  

For example, in Scotland, our volunteer Jamie was at an online Highland Third Sector Interface meeting recently and met Rebecca from the charity Headway.

After explaining about AbilityNet, she expressed an interest in using our services.  She had recently joined Headway Highland and is currently in the process of making contact with all their clients, around 100.  

Headway usually runs regular meetings, but things will need to be done online for the time being, which is where AbilityNet can step in.

Some clients will require assistance with technology and benefit from our expert remote support. 

Rebecca said “Thank you ever so much for your time and support Jamie and the follow-up email.  I appreciate your logical, tech supportive approach.”

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