Apna Virsa is a National Lottery-funded community project based in Slough. It would normally be running fitness classes and socialising opportunities to improve the wellbeing of older people at risk of isolation and poor health. However, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it has moved its sessions, classes, and groups online.
Dedicated staff and volunteers at the group are offering sessions that include online yoga and Pilates and bhangra lessons, as well as bitesize IT classes, all with the aim of keeping older people in the community motivated, connected, and active while confined to their homes. The organisation is also running a virtual tea-time group on Zoom, offering a place for people to share stories about what they’ve been doing, swap recipes, and share new skills they’ve learnt.
The organisation is also providing a dedicated call-in service once a week for current members in case they want to share any worries or concerns or just have a friendly call.
So far, the adapted services have been so successful that Apna Virsa is sharing learning with other community groups, so they can run similar services to ensure people are connected while at home.
Seema Kamboj, Project Lead at Apna Virsa said:
“This situation has put people more at risk of social isolation and vulnerability. It is more important now than ever before to engage them, provide support, keep them motivated, and keep their social connections going. We have been busy teaching our members how to use Zoom, YouTube, and WhatsApp, and it has really made a difference to them. We have seen their attitude change from worried to confident. It’s so lovely to see their smiling faces again.
“We see our role as ensuring that they maintain their mental wellbeing and know they are still a part of the community and have not been left behind and forgotten.”