Virtual Coffee and Chat sessions help tenants feel less isolated during the pandemic

Published: 26 August 2020 

Traditional coffee mornings may have taken a backseat due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the team behind the Coffee and Chat sessions at SLH have relaunched with online virtual groups, bringing vulnerable and shielding tenants together.  

Prior to the pandemic, we hosted face-to-face Coffee and Chat events to tackle loneliness and social isolation. The sessions proved to be invaluable, by connecting with likeminded individuals on a weekly basis.  

But, because of the virus lockdown and the new challenges that vulnerable and shielding tenants faced, we spotted a greater need for the weekly get-togethers to restart.  

The project has been adapted and attendees are able to attend virtually, thanks to the help of Speke Training and Enterprise Centre (STEC), who have donated tablets to South Liverpool Homes tenants. 

Going online has enabled the traditional coffee morning to evolve and SLH’s Community Investment team to host a programme of online digital sessions, meaning all attendees can digitally drop-in to the group chat every Friday.  

Improving the group’s digital capacity and capabilities has meant some of the most vulnerable tenants have been able to stay in touch with SLH, friends and family during the pandemic.  

Dave from Garston, an SLH tenant and Coffee and Chat attendee, commented on the importance of attending the group and why it’s a positive experience for him: “It's good to have the opportunity to speak to people because it makes you realise others have felt the same as you during lockdown - being part of the group makes you feel better, like you’re not alone.” 

Logging on to the coffee mornings has proven a vital way for people to stay connected whilst maintaining social distancing and the programme invites new guest speakers to engage with the group each week. Guest speakers from our community of partnering training providers attend virtually and this has introduced an educational aspect to the chat, providing the attendees with advice and guidance about the many training courses that are available to them.    

Expanding tenants cooking knowledge  

A few weeks ago, our friends at Homecooked CIC delivered burrito meal kits to some of the Coffee and Chat members, to encourage healthy home-cooking. Each kit contained a recipe card and all the ingredients needed to put together a fresh, nutritious meal.  

The aim was to encourage participants to cook healthy meals, from scratch, that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The burrito kits were provided the evening before one of the sessions and then the members discussed how they found the experience as a talking point during the session.  

Staying connected  

Although the initiative was developed prior to lockdown, the sessions had wider potential and have proven to be an innovative way to support tenants during the crisis.  

South Liverpool Homes Community health and wellbeing officer Tom Hayes said, “Our virtual Coffee and Chat groups have allowed tenants, some who have been isolating for six months, to engage with people they may never have usually spoken to previously. This has encouraged rich and diverse discussions.  

We have also invited guest speakers from different community partners to the group, this has resulted in some tenants attending additional courses around anxiety management and positive thinking. One tenant noted it was really nice just to speak to people and know others have been feeling the same during lockdown, this made him feel that he wasn’t alone.” 

Select members of the group recently met at the Grow Speke, our community garden site, to understand more about the volunteer opportunities available, outside of the Coffee and Chat session, whilst adhering to social distancing rules.  

Find out more 

If you would like to join the coffee and chat sessions, email cit@southliverpoolhomes.co.uk or give the team a call on 0330 303 3000 and choose option 4.

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