Our Volunteering In Partnership (VIP) programme aims to redress the trend in the growing number of people who feel socially isolated and lonely. In 2016 to 2017, 5% of adults aged over 16 in England said they felt lonely often or always – that’s 1 in 20 adults. 16% of adults said they sometimes felt lonely, and 24% occasionally (Office of National Statistics).

Our programme uses a team of volunteers to engage people aged over 16 during this pandemic, working together to help alleviate loneliness. We do so with activities carried out in online workshops. By using Zoom we can reach into households and encourage participants to take part in activities such as Zumba, mindfulness, crafts, chair-based exercise, yoga, nutrition, loneliness and isolation workshops, mental health workshops and a men’s empowerment group, to name just some. Activities are generally carried out by professionals.

In normal times these workshops would take place in the centre with volunteers working one to one, face to face with participants. We normally recruit volunteers and encourage participants to take part in our programmes within our centre. But whilst the lockdown continues, we will meet people online.

One participant commented:

“I took part in a Zoom loneliness and isolation workshop; it was really helpful as it gave lots of tips on things to do to help myself. The booklet given at the end had a lot of information and included things to keep my mind occupied such as adult colouring and crosswords. It was also good to see other people on the Zoom.

Another Volunteer commented:

“I really enjoy being a VIP and though I cannot be in the centre at present, I can let people know what’s happening on Zoom and there is a lot going on. I am taking part in the crochet and that is good fun and I am learning a new skill. It’s good. I am being both a volunteer and a participant.”

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