We’ve all had to make a number of changes to adjust to life in a pandemic, but this has been particularly hard for the people we support, who suddenly had their lives turned upside down by having their freedom taken away from them.

It has been brilliant to see the innovation of support staff creating ways of filling this void to keep people happy and entertained whilst staying safe indoors.

They started to put on virtual activities using platforms such as Zoom and Facebook. This quickly became a great way to reach and engage people when they were unable to see them face-to-face.

The Enterprise in Richmond and The Community Network in Kent teamed up to produce a schedule of activities that people from across the organisation could join in with on a weekly basis. Other services such as the Autism Hub in York also opened up their online sessions to people in other areas.

Soon people were accessing a wide choice of activities such as keep fit classes, arts and crafts, bingo games, politics discussions and much more. It has given people a way to keep busy, add structure to their day and the opportunity to keep in touch with their friends, as well as meet new people from different areas of the country who are also supported by United Response.

Shane, Lead Senior Support Worker in Richmond said:

All the activities have been brilliant and an absolute life line during lockdown. They have been essential to structure people’s days and are so important as a way to maintain friendships and a relationship with other United Response staff.

The activities have also had a huge positive impact on the wellbeing of people during the lockdowns and the pandemic.

Kayleigh told us: “The sessions have definitely helped me to stay positive especially at the beginning of lockdown.”

Jesse told us: “My favourite activity is Keep fit with Kat, she’s good, kind and friendly. I am going to miss some activities when back at college.”

Staff and even some family members have also joined in. At a time when people were stuck at home this new way of accessing activities has really brought people together.

Katie’s mum told us:

They have kept my daughter motivated and engaged. They have been a life saver for me as they have kept her positive and have added structure to her day. I have enjoyed several of the classes myself – especially Relaxation, Dance with Lucy and Cooking Club. Entering into my daughter’s activities with her gives us something extra to talk about and discuss.