...to infinity and beyond!
By Henry Charles, CFF Project Manager
As we all know, we have all been living in some very strange times over the last 14 months as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. This resulted in a lack of or extremely limited face to face contact with others and the increased use of technology to communicate and connect with the world around us.
CFF, along with many other agencies/organisations, had to quickly adapt it’s services and ways of working to ensure that we were able to provide and deliver easy access to much needed support to young people and their families living within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. This resulted in CFF being thrust into the realms of digital/remote delivery of services. For me being born in the late 1960’s, growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and not having any real interest in computers, IT or technology, this past year was always going to be a REAL challenge!
Long gone were the days of large computers with green screens and reams of computer paper, Commodore and Spectrum Computers – which made the scrambling noise when you loaded your games, (which can still be seen at the Natural History Museum for anyone who is interested - how to make you feel old lol!)
So over the past year or so the rest of the World, CFF and I have moved to using ‘Zoom’ and ‘Teams’ (Microsoft Teams). And with it has come a whole new meaning to every day words - before the pandemic 'zoom' was to drive down the street or motorway pushing the speed limit and 'teams' were something you supported on a Saturday afternoon. Then we all got into using the IT jargon – ‘chat’ (historically an activity you might engage in with your neighbour over the garden fence), ‘platform’ (but not a train in sight), ‘Jamboard’ (doesn’t sound very tasty!), ‘gallery’ (but not the arty kind) and breakout rooms (the kind of rooms that you do want to leave in a hurry once you’ve entered) etc.
Jargon aside, there are other 'delights' that this world of digital working have brought - trying to attend a meeting and finding that you are all alone because the other participants are waiting in different rooms; attending a meeting, delivering training or a group where people have their cameras off and are on mute leaving you talking into an abyss - 'is anybody there?!'; people’s Wi-Fi signal dropping off meaning they come in and out of the meeting or session - is it the wifi or are they blaming the Wi-Fi whilst actually doing something else at home - ‘only joking’), struggling to see peoples body language and make sense of their facial expressions (as the screen freeze for the 20th time); etc.
For me I can truly say that the past year or so have been a massive learning curve in relation to my use of digital working and delivery of CFF sessions and the CFF team have worked extremely hard and endeavoured to maximise the digital experiences/interaction of these young people and parents/carers that attend the Workshops or Groups. E.g. continued to ensure a relaxed learning atmosphere, promoted a group feel within sessions (we are in this together vibe), developed activities that still fully engage those in attendance and most importantly making those who have come to the sessions feel they have gained something from attending/it’s been of benefit.
Although many of use, me included forward to a time where we can deliver CFF sessions top young people and their families face-to-face, I can definitely say having now embraced (continuing to) this way of working I can see the extra benefits that digital working and delivery has brought to the CFF table. E.g. it has enabled us to continue to deliver much needed services and offer support over the period of the pandemic in relation to mental, anxiety and behavioural issues for families, it has enabled young people/parents and carers to access CFF sessions in another and sometimes more convenient way and timely way, it has allowed CFF to continue delivery of their Training nationally and share their skills and knowledge at regional Conferences with other professionals/agencies; etc.
I will signoff for now and for all those Star Trek buffs/Trekkies ……….. Star date 7.5.2021