The Circle of Friends, a peer support group in Glasgow, is keeping its circle connected whilst staying physically distant.

In the beginning of lockdown, the group members organised a WhatsApp messenger group to stay in touch, however as the weeks went on people began to speak less and the group was drifting apart.

They knew they had to think of new ideas to stay socially connected and so organised regular gatherings over Zoom video calls to discuss activities they could do virtually together.

The video calls have been very successful and now occur three times a week with the group participating in different activities such as bingo and weekly blether sessions.

They even have new members joining in since lockdown to meet new people and reduce their feelings of social isolation and loneliness within their homes.

Kevin O’Donnell, operations manager said: “A number of our services focus on reducing people’s feelings of isolation and loneliness within their homes and in the community. This is really difficult during the lockdown period because of the NHS and Government advice put in place.

“However, our team of staff and the people we support are doing a great job of keeping groups such as the Circle of Friends going during this difficult time.”

Angela McCormack, lead support practitioner said: "To begin with it was quite challenging to keep the Circle of Friends connected. However video calls have been really useful and helped us to continue to run the group on a regular basis. It has been brilliant and has provided the people we support with structure, routine and contact.

“Some group members are unable to get access to technology to join in on the weekly Zoom calls. However the group has planned to organise letter writing as another method to keep people in touch. The group hopes to link in with other services within our organisation to send letters and expand our reach.

“It will be great once we get this idea off the ground.”

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