Despite having to close all 10 clubs due to enforced social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff and volunteers from Keynsham Mencap have been working from home, maintaining contact with our members and coming up with innovative ideas and activities. The club leaders have been keeping in touch with members and families with regular calls and texts, sending out activity packs including colouring pages, activity sheets, word searches and dot to dot, recipes to try at home, craft ideas to cut out and make and packets of seeds to plant in the garden.
The society has been active on our social media platforms with regular videos and updates from club leaders. We have embraced the virtual communication world, with groups having Zoom meet ups, a weekly get together to chat and catch up. The Music Man Project has a weekly music session, complete with instruments made from items found in the home! Radstock Juniors have had a virtual quiz and a scavenger hunt. Club25 had a brilliant game of zoom bingo, and at a members’ request held a fancy dress bingo session.
We have set up a toy and game library, for members to borrow any of the equipment that would usually be used at club sessions. Board games, jigsaw puzzles, musical instruments, toys, garden and outdoor games are included. Operation’s Manager Laura has been out and about in the minibus to visit some members, particularly those who can’t get online, for a socially distanced chat on the door step.
‘We know that many of our more vulnerable members and their families will be experiencing increased levels of anxiety and isolation while we have closed our clubs. This creative way of keeping in touch will remind them that they are still very much part of our community. This uncertain time will also put a great amount of strain on the families, parents and carers of our members, we want to be able to help with those challenges that they will be facing every day’. said Laura.
Our team of amazing volunteers that usually support the weekly clubs and activities are even now, during this challenging period, still supporting the members by joining in with video calls, making weekly phone calls, helping to design activities that can be done at home, making videos, and so much more.
With the closure of the clubs, loss of subs, cancelation of fund raising events and limited grant funding available we are experiencing a significant reduction in income. We have moved into virtual fundraising and have created online events that have not only kept members, their family and friends entertained and having fun, but also raised much needed funds.
So far we have held an Easter raffle – with 2 large Easter eggs kindly donated by the Keynsham Lions, along with a hamper donated by friends of the society. A well-attended virtual pub quiz hosted on Facebook and YouTube, followed up by a music quiz, plus an online photography competition fundraiser. Even with restrictions easing a little there is still the need to host events online and appeal to the wider community of supporters to help to raise funds.
We have details of virtual events and suggestions of others ways to raise money to support the appeal at keynshammencap.org.uk/fundraising/appeals.
‘It is a trying time right now, as we are experiencing a significant loss in income, many of our funders and grant providers have ceased their grant giving activities, and we have had to cancel or postpone some of our biggest fundraising events of the year. The society still needs to cover monthly running costs, and we also want to make sure we can offer fun activities as soon as restrictions have been lifted when we welcome back our members. We hope our supporters will continue to embrace the virtual fundraising world, while we plan more events as we continue working around the challenges we are currently being faced’. Said Amanda Leonard Fundraiser
We have been very grateful to those who have supported us so far. We have an appeal on our Local Giving page https://localgiving.org/appeal/COVID-19-support/ and if you feel like making a donation to us, no matter how small, it would be much appreciated. She added.