Here to stay: online sessions to support older and isolated people

Written by Luke Brown, Community Project Manager, BIG Alliance

Despite the gradual return to more face-to-face activities, BIG Alliance is keen to continue offering easily accessible and fun online activities for volunteers.

We recently took stock of our work to remotely support older and isolated individuals in 2021. One of our favourite initiatives in this space is delivering online puzzle making sessions where volunteers create a simple puzzle for older people living with memory problems. The puzzles involve a simple guessing game which encourages cognitive stimulation and a sense of achievement.

Once complete, volunteers post the puzzles to the Forget Me Not Memory Café where they are used by their members as part of their activity programme.

Example of a hand puzzle made by a volunteer

For the uninitiated, memory cafes are a safe space where people diagnosed with memory problems and their carers meet regularly with other people in similar circumstances and take part in cognitive stimulating and light physical activities, such as crafts, quizzes, singing, seated exercises, games, and puzzles. This informal setting provides emotional support and also reduces the isolation often felt by people with memory problems, their carers and families.

In 2021 we were thankful to work with 53 volunteers from 3 different business partners across 6 sessions. Volunteers gave an hour of their time to create a puzzle, decorate it and often included a short note to help foster a sense of community. We received some lovely feedback from volunteers, with a couple saying:

“It was a great session. The team really enjoyed taking part and appreciated the mindful nature of the task. I just need to work out how to get rid of all this glitter now ? Thanks very much for such a great and rewarding way to use a lunch hour.”

BIG Alliance is looking forward to offering similar online sessions into the future to sit alongside our in-person opportunities.

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