The Daisy Chain (Covid-19) project was a local volunteer initiative, led by Kent Arts & Wellbeing working in partnership with Espression Arts CIC. It started in April 2020 and ran to January 2021.
The main purpose of Daisy Chain (Covid-19) was to help older, frailer, people overcome the loneliness, isolation, anxiety and frustration of coping under Covid-19 lockdown and stringent social distancing conditions.
Initially the focus was to help the network of (40+) Our Work of Art volunteers, many of whom are older, vulnerable people in their own right.
The aim was to build the confidence and wellbeing of volunteers to prepare them ready to engage with an array of older, vulnerable people (aged 60-100) later on (part of the ‘Our Home is’ project).
Daisy Chain was about:
- Engaging the volunteers to be capable and ready, adapting their befriending outreach methods, via telephone, (and online) and to provide stimulating activities (creative ‘activity sheets’ and then making ‘crafting kits’) that can be posted, or door-step delivered, to sheltered schemes and care homes;
- Providing a well bonded community team offering a vital befriending resource to older frailer people who (pre Covid-19) previously enjoyed creative programmes at the Age UK centres in Canterbury and Herne Bay & Whitstable. Groups and social gatherings were suspended during the lockdown periods.
- Developing an exceptionally valuable social capital resource, even more essential given the Covid-19 context.
- Maintaining and extend connectedness with elderly and vulnerable older people in the District.
- Maintaining their mental health to boost their emotional wellbeing that also helps to prevent further physical health deterioration in older people.
The Daisy Chain interventions were initially about working with volunteers to prepare them to support other older people by:
- Providing reassurance, comfort and advice on engaging with the range of simple, stimulating creative activities (many of which were be paper based initially).
- Focusing on purposeful ‘occupation’ engagement through stimulating creative distraction.
- Generating enjoyment and a basis for ongoing conversations, and visual sharing of people’s contributions, based on a phased, varied list of sub-topics.
Volunteer support involved:
- Regular one to one phone calls, to all the volunteers, the team leads (Catherine Arnell and Fay Blair).
- Motivating and mentoring volunteers, to use and take part in online group discussion group sessions using Zoom.
- Maintaining and extending volunteer connectivity via monthly network meetings were held on Zoom.
- Weekly facilitation of 3 different weekly topic/ interest facilitated group Zoom sessions (creative crafting, garden & plants, food/recipe group, a creative writing discussion group, and a book group).
- Discussion via facebook messenger group forum, a separate one for each topic/ interest group,
- Wider sharing of information via the Our Work of Art Creative Volunteer Network private facebook group.
- 48 volunteers were supported, who in turn supported a further 45 older people in the community.
- 16 volunteers were trained as “Daisies” who then supported a further 45 older people in a range of care settings.
Daisy Chain (Covid-19) also formed an integral important component of a larger project funded by Canterbury City Council, called ‘Our Home is..’