Reaching out to the non-digital community
Updated: Jul 14
'Connected' – a new project reaching out to people without internet access
Anna Chaplaincy network member Sally Nevitt, Older Persons Director at Immanuel Church, Bournemouth, tells of a way of reaching those left behind in the pandemic world of reliance on new technology:
A significant number of, mostly, older people have been left behind as the world turned to digital communications in this Covid 19 pandemic. Zoom, Skype and similar platforms are beyond the comprehension of people who rely on the physical world. While churches have been creative in their output on YouTube, Facebook, etc., it has left this group feeling even more isolated.
Right at the beginning of the pandemic, we identified those members of our church and community who would be at increased risk of isolation, and a team of volunteers has been ringing people regularly to make sure they are okay, to organise collection of prescriptions and to pick up shopping.
As the weeks extended into months, we realised something more needed to be done, so our telephone project, Connected, came into being. A simple concept, using a conference call system, means we can offer a range of different activities for people to join in with. They can access the activity one of two ways, either they can dial in and enter a room number when prompted or we can hold their number on our database, ring out and all they need to do is press the hash key and they are connected with others in the 'room'.
We are currently offering seven activities:
a midweek service with Communion
a psalm and reflection
a short story
a current affairs discussion
We are planning to expand this and offer at least two activities each day, catering for a variety of tastes.
This project, for which we have produced a flyer, has had a very enthusiastic response and is ensuring that the most vulnerable and isolated members of the community are not forgotten. We have been blessed with some funding to help promote the scheme and are sending out 500 flyers in an effort to reach more people.
This is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward way of keeping the lines of communication open during the pandemic, and we also plan to use this scheme when things return to normal as there are many people, who are housebound, who would benefit from the continuation of the project.