Online peer support with Chard Watch

Online peer support with Chard Watch

Chard Watch, like so many other organisations, has had to adapt quickly and now offers online opportunities for our members, volunteers and staff to come together during these difficult times of lockdown and isolation.

The sudden change to working remotely at home has been quite an undertaking for staff, but has had some surprising results. We quickly applied to Somerset Community Foundation for the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, and within a matter of days received funding of £1,500. This enabled us to create a new online video chat room for all our members, staff and volunteers.

Now on our third week, we have quite a few members, volunteers and staff calling in and sharing their experiences, good and bad, which enables us to continue our valuable peer relationships. We have found inviting organisations to join these meetings to be very beneficial. It enables attendees to access information first-hand, which might not usually happen, especially for those who sometimes find it difficult to join us. Members now have the chance to ask questions from the comfort of their home without having to travel, which can sometimes be daunting.

We try to have a balance of listening to everyone’s needs, and time for laughter. Members are organising a quiz and are planning their own programme which is making the most of their skills and helping with confidence. I thoroughly enjoy the three hour sessions we have every Thursday and would recommend any peer group or organisation to have a go as it’s certainly keeping us connected.

We are also part of the expanded Somerset Mindline service and our Emotional Peer Support Worker, Maria, is available for calls on 07955 527226 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 11am to 3pm. Maria also hosts a peer chat forum on a Saturday from 11am to 2pm. 

We aim with our service to help callers connect with other peers, and share their emotional feelings during this difficult time.

Julie Matthews, CEO, Chard Watch.

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