What a crazy year 2020 turned out to be

2020 has brought everyone unexpected challenges. A global pandemic has changed everyone’s plans.

As an organisation, our aim was to continue to provide as much support as we could. Despite the challenges, we continued to support all those we already did before lockdown, as well as fill in gaps that appeared in people’s usual avenue of support.

Carr Gomm has carried on delivering high quality services. Sourcing additional PPE was initially a challenge, but we adapted well and delivered the necessary changes in health and safety practices to ensure everyone was kept safe – both staff and those we support.

To keep boredom and anxiety at bay, we arranged boredom packs and plenty of activities for those we support. Watching creations unfold from people’s homes was inspiring.  

A service in Forth Valley even had its own tennis tournament, while a homemade outdoor gym was created in Edinburgh. This particular service also hosted socially distanced art and gardening classes. Coffee mornings and movie nights were common, and there were many virtual gatherings for those that could not physically meet. With more time indoors, there was more time for painting and drawing that ever before. So much art was made that we created a double page spreads in our summer newspaper to showcase as many masterpieces as possible!

There has also been more focus on health, with staff participating in our health and wellbeing project. Our partner, Health by Science (HbS) created courses that focused on keeping people healthy. The aim being to increase confidence and knowledge in nutrition, exercise, diet, and stress amongst others.

Lockdown across the organisation

Lockdown and shielding meant that socialising largely had to go digital. This was a challenge for many - whether by not having the technology, or having the technology and not having the knowledge or confidence to use it. As a result, digital access and inclusion have been an important focus for us this year. In some ways, being more digitally connected has brought many of us closer, and we will continue to explore what is digitally possible to connect us even more in 2021.

As we know, vulnerable groups have been most affected by the pandemic. With having to stay home, or by having their day to day lives hugely disrupted, it was important that access to what people needed continued. For example, in Argyll & Bute, our staff collected and delivered prescriptions and essential goods for those we support.

How we adapted

Our incredible staff had to adapt overnight when lockdown began in mid-March. We followed government guidelines while continuing our support. Here's just a hint at some of the things we’ve done over the past year:

  • Delivered the necessary changes in health and safety practices to ensure everyone was kept safe and well.
  • Adapted people’s personal support plans to ensure their health and safety.
  • With day centres closing, people’s activities had to happen at home - this led to some very inventive and creative activities within our residential services.
  • Much of our support became digital, with many of our classes, workshops and groups having their events via Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype. This allowed skills and relationships to continue to develop whilst sticking to guidelines.
  • We took a digital audit of all our work in all the localities we work in, and as a result, are continuing to explore how we improve digital inclusion and connectivity across our services.
  • We received funding from Tesco to contribute to a food bank and to offer financial support to our Food and Blether Group so they could keep cooking together digitally.
  • We received funding from the Scottish Government’s Food Fund to help people we support access food in a number of localities during the pandemic.
  • We were awarded £10,500 from the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund to spread kindness to those we support. We used the funding to purchase 382 spread kindness packages for people across the country.

Thoughts from across our organisation

We invited our staff to offer their own reflections on how 2020 has been for them.

Looking ahead to 2021

In 2020 we learned that we are a resilient and positive, forward thinking organisation. Through a global pandemic, we have continued delivering person-centred, respectful and interdependent support. As vaccines begin to roll out across Scotland, things may slowly return to what we once knew, and we will be able to get together once again. However, 2020 really has taught us a huge amount that will stay with us all forever. We’re so proud of the whole wonderful Carr Gomm family.