Stories from the community: Learn for Life

25 Mar 2020


With the spread of the coronavirus around the UK and much of the world, we are facing challenging times ahead. We’re supporting our network partners, who are often a vital lifeline for socially and digitally excluded people. These organisations are using innovative techniques to support people, playing a crucial role in helping people to access the digital tools and resources they need.

Learn for Life Enterprise in Sheffield has suspended face to face teaching in response to the current situation with coronavirus. Hayley Nelson, who manages the centre, tells us how they’ve been getting on.

We have just finished two weeks of transition, where we began by implementing good hygiene and reducing group numbers, as well as educating people about symptoms and staying safe. We have now suspended teaching and have explained why this has had to happen: to help to slow the spread of the virus in the best interests of our own and the wider community.

We will now continue to provide support to our users by adapting to the situation in a safe and healthy way. Initially we contacted our regular users and encouraged them to follow our Facebook page and join our Facebook group This will ensure we keep the community together and people stay connected. People will be able to contact each other, as well as ourselves, and we will be able to provide support remotely. There will also be a Whatsapp group for those who want to join.

If someone needs urgent assistance which involves face to face support, for example with filling in an online form, we will either do this outdoors using wi-fi, or we’ll use a large spacious room, ensuring appropriate distance is maintained.

We have been in contact with our volunteers and those, who are able to do so, have offered support in different ways. Some of our teachers will be providing online classes at different levels, and we are looking at the best way to do this. In addition, we will be sharing useful resources and online learning that users can do at home as well as apps which they can download.

Learn for Life will also be sharing information with users to keep them up to date on important developments around the crisis and ways to self-manage isolation and reduce anxiety. Our bilingual volunteers will translate key information into different community languages. If users are self-isolating and need assistance with food shopping and delivery because they are unable to order online or have no money, we will be able to support them. We are setting up an emergency fund to help those who are most in need and may need financial support during the crisis.

Although the situation is worrying and scary for everyone, we need to find ways to maintain human contact and support those who are more vulnerable. We believe that using digital technology will be hugely beneficial for a lot of our users and, by communicating through the internet, their digital skills will grow. For those who are still hesitant about using digital, we are also sharing our phone number and will be able to provide telephone support. As the situation develops, we will try to adapt as best we can, and ensure those who need the most support still feel safely included in our community.

Find out more about Good Things Foundation’s work to support digitally and socially excluded people during the coronavirus outbreak here, and if you’re an Online Centres and would like to share how you’re supporting your community, please get in touch at hello@goodthingsfoundation.org.