Our Life Skills Facilitator Matt Prescott shares his personal perspective of Life Skills activities during lockdown.
“I have been working as a Life Skills Facilitator at the Genesis Trust for over three years and before that was volunteering to help run art activities. I get so much out of teaching people and seeing people gain confidence as they try something new and interact with our groups.
So, at the beginning of COVID-19 I was really worried as I knew I would have to personally shield myself but also realised that the tight lockdown restrictions were likely to have a negative impact on the vulnerable clients that I work with.
I knew quickly we would have to find different ways of connecting with our clients and over the first week or so we set up a closed Facebook group, I learnt how to use Facebook Live and we started using Zoom.
During lockdown we have offered a variety of art activities via the Facebook group and live functions and we have encouraged clients to vote on themes and suggest their own. Activities have included watercolours, still life, cartoons, lettering and illustration. We have also dabbled in animation as I have an MA in Animation and was keen to share some accessible techniques for clients to try at home using their mobile phones. We have also offered creative writing activities, our own Desert Island Discs and a Faith Group. We have been really lucky to have some volunteers helping us to create and deliver this content from the safety of their own homes. During this time I have also been supporting clients on a one-to-one basis through phone calls. This has involved practical support such as helping them to access Foodbank parcels and other services and emotional support.
I have really missed seeing our clients face-to-face and the community atmosphere that it creates, but I am delighted that we have been able to offer activities and an alternative type of community. At first, many of our clients were a little reticent but they have grown in confidence and I believe many of them are really enjoying the activities.
I didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning of our online Life Skills project but knew we had to do something for our clients. I was personally nervous of how to use the technology to create a good experience and I didn’t really know how our clients would respond. I have settled in to it really well, am grateful to have been kept busy during this time and am delighted to see clients participating and having fun.
I am hoping we can soon expand our variety of activities and maybe include subjects such as yoga, mindfulness and relaxation and cookery”.