Drink and Drugs News DDN May 2020 (1) | Page 9

Above: The Well hub and social supermarket in Barrow supported with daily team Zoom meetings (other platforms are available), and regular outreach is now via telephone and social media platforms and tools – WhatsApp and Facebook. This aims to replicate as far as possible the principles of pre-COVID delivery but with the added bonus that group work is now open to all without geographical restrictions. Since the lockdown began: more than 15 online support groups are running each week with regular participation live exercise classes (weekly) achieve around 100 views per session and active participation recovery shares (weekly) are viewed by up to 500 people live topic broadcast (with field experts) are viewed by up to 700 people • • • • Both organisations have also inadvertently created ‘flagship’ broadcasts. Red Rose Recovery and WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM the Lancashire User Forum developed the ‘LUF Lounge’ on Saturday evenings at 5pm – hosted on Zoom and broadcast to Facebook as a live stream. The Well have been using Facebook to live stream for broadcasts on Monday and Friday each week at 12 noon. Both events have drawn in both local and national figures to update, educate, support and entertain our recovery communities. Both organisations have been collaborating to share experience of the technology, to support each other’s approaches in reaching out and provide meaningful content for the local recovery communities – and beyond. Digital delivery has meant reaching recovery communities in Wales, Australia and New York! New partnerships are appearing as a result of the new digital world, for example working with local housing providers to support delivery of food parcels in the physical world and support them to access the online offer. THE LESSONS What are we learning as a result of all this? Isolation and mental health have been key issues raised, especially from those in supported housing as they are almost confined to their bedrooms (although we know that not all are keeping to lockdown rules and meeting up with friends etc). • • People are struggling when they • • • • are unable to see their children and other family members; this is also undermining some people’s mental health. There is a perceived increase in relapse; local treatment provision has seen an increase in referrals. Another key concern is that those who have experienced crime, assault or dispute are desperate for personal contact, something no digital transformation can ever overcome. Facebook and Twitter followers are rapidly increasing alongside significant increases in requests for support. The beauty of digital is that the analytics are available to help inform reach. We can see an unprecedented surge in views with a global reach from the broadcast events so far. THE FUTURE This has yet again highlighted the inherent value of community organisations and community participation. It has shone a light on the need to address digital inclusion and ensure people have access to the right tools to enable participation, alongside other existing social, economic and health inequalities. Plans are currently being developed to build on these early developments and to bring along other groups who wish to join in, to build digital inclusion, develop the new digital skills and embrace what technology has to offer. This will include technical, social and policy development needs. The future is clearly unknown. When will lockdown measures begin to ease, how will that happen and what restrictions will remain? All are questions that society as a whole will be grappling with. What is certain is that the digital shift in delivery for recovery communities locally is here to stay. Yes, the physical world is important and digital cannot replace much of ‘normal’ recovery activity. However the ability to reach out beyond borders (of whatever sort), to share stories, experiences, music and thought in times of crisis is aided by digital platforms. The increased connectivity is making a difference, for example people who suffer with anxiety or those living in rural communities. We can’t just go back to ‘normal’. Chris Lee is public health specialist at Lancashire County Council If you would like to know more, please contact: Chris Lee, [email protected] Peter Yarwood, strategic engagement lead, Red Rose Recovery, [email protected] David Higham, CEO, The Well Communities, [email protected] LUF Lounge: www.facebook.com/groups/279396408828996 The Well Communities: www.facebook.com/groups/ thewellcommunities/ MAY 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 9