Bingo, biscuits and being together: reducing social isolation Help on Your Doorstep has been actively supporting residents through the Coronavirus crisis. We have been adapting our activities to deliver them safely and in line with government guidance. Val, Good Neighbours Coordinator, shares her experience of running services during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thinking outside of the box “Thinking outside of the box is something we are used to doing in the Good Neighbours Scheme, but never more so than now during lock down. We are having to adapt our activities, carefully thinking about the people who attend. A lot of my 70 plus group users do not have smart phones, tablets, laptops or computers so the other online zoom activities that we are running are not something that they can join in. Having a chat line that multiple residents can use at one time has been a life line for a lot of my residents. Many of them live alone and really miss other group users' company and the Good Neighbours weekly bingo/coffee afternoon group they attended at the Hugh Cubitt Centre. Bringing a bit of normality back The weekly chat line bingo group has been running every Wednesday for the last 7 weeks. It has been great to bring a bit of normality to residents' lives and lift their spirits. We have 2 games each week consisting of 1 line, 2 lines & a full house and the prizes are fruit, biscuits and a £5 Sainsbury’s gift card. Each week I deliver the previous weeks prizes and tickets for 2 weeks at a time. This gives me a chance to see people in person and have a 15-20 min social distance chat with them to see how they are really doing which is nice for them and me.” Feels like meeting people in real life For our residents, these phone sessions feel like they are meeting people in real life. “It is the highlight of my week! I wash my face, comb my hair, put on a nice top then make a cuppa and I am good to go. I know no one can see me but I picture the other ladies when we are playing and it feels like I am back in our weekly group at the community centre”. Doreen said. Our residents really value this social activity; it gives them an opportunity to do something as part of a group whilst social distancing. Yvonne said “It can be a bit noisy at the beginning of the bingo as everyone is saying hello and talking but then we start the bingo and it so nice that we can feel part of a group and do this and we all really enjoy it”. It gives people something to look forward to, which has been essential in these unprecedented times. “I really look forward to doing the bingo every week with the other ladies I think it is fantastic that we can do this on the phone and still have a bit of fun” said Bridie. Val’s work is vital to giving those members of the community who are isolated opportunities to socialise and feel part of a group. This is particularly important for those who do not have access to online activities, either through lack of technology or lack of confidence. Please support Val and the other Good Neighbours Schemes to reach these residents by donating to our COVID appeal.