The Friendship Cabin goes digital
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a public health emergency worldwide. Its impact on peoples’ health both physical and mental, needs no emphasis. Different people react differently to complexities and uncertainties, including feelings of loss of control, anxiety around well-being, cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being.
The Friendship Cabin realised that this could have a huge impact on their members and volunteers, so they put their heads together and went onto the Zoom Video Communications Software in the early days of the lockdown in March. The Charity has done unprecedented work to keep the organisation still functional. Using Zoom has allowed them to go virtual and offer real and visible support.
The project organisers have recognised that had the organisation had not gone digital, it would probably not be able to sustain itself. The organisers were worried that the current members engaging with their services would have probably suffered poor mental health without their services. After going digital the members have the choice to keep engaged through social media and some have learned to use Microsoft office to type letters, play games, etc. Members, that once had doubts and were scared of learning computers, have now gained confidence in using them. The members look forward to their ZOOM sessions and this has helped new members join The Friendship Cabin and together the group is combatting loneliness and isolation. The Friendship Cabin along with its Trustees, board, volunteers, and members have now become a close-knit family.
The projects meet three times each week to provide chats, virtual quizzes, quizzes, jokes, games, entertainment, fun, laughs, and even parties. To make members aware of the current living situation, guest speakers were invited to give talks on diet, wellbeing, fraud, mental health, bowel cancer, etc. Before each session, members are always informed of the date and time of the session thereby ensuring no one is omitted. The programme of each session is pre-arranged by the volunteers and notice of its content is given whenever possible.
Age ranges and number of participants
The age range covers 18 and over. As part of our Intergenerational project, some attendees were as young as eight taking an active part in the sessions. Up to 50 people took part in the project.
The Friendship Cabin has a strong client base and has been in existence since May 2018. Involvement came from word of mouth, current members recommended the organisation to friends and others who needed what was offered. The Friendship Cabin has also built-up strong relationships with many national organisations who have encourage their clients to join in.
Benefits for the Community
This project gave The Friendship Cabin an opportunity to include the wider community. This helped its members develop friendships, enjoy group participation with planned activities, and helped to gain an increased understanding of the other age groups. The participants from the community also gained confidence and developed new skills. This intergenerational aspect has bought all ages together creating a sense of inclusion in the community.
Benefits for the Younger People
The outcomes for young people include positive benefits for academic work and improved relationships with grandparents. It also gave them an understanding of wellbeing and experiences of associating with older age groups.
Benefits for the Older People
It created an objective in their lives, and it gave them something to look forward to each week. The benefits they enjoyed was that loneliness was avoided as they were able to meet and chat with other members this also enabled families to enjoy some respite.
The Friendship Cabin is funded only by small grants, personal donations, and fundraising. They receive no funding from local authorities currently and projects can only be achieved by careful financial planning where costs are kept to a minimum.
The project has been/ being evaluated on a constant basis by continual feedback from its participants and by comments made by contributors to the sessions. Evaluation is also made after regular meetings with board members who are in continual contact with members when suggestions for alterations or improvement are discussed.
The project’s aim is in continuing with the innovations currently in place. The Friendship Cabin tries to be aware of any new matters that will improve the quality of life and well-being of all age groups.
The priority of The Friendship Cabin has always been for the wellbeing of its members, irrespective of age, and will always be and is laid down in the constitution.
Scottish NPF Objectives
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF) and meets all the objectives.