Blaithin Sweeney and the Havin’ a Laugh charity were amazing during the pandemic. They took their monthly coffee mornings online and had a weekly virtual coffee morning. This was a great idea for those of us who felt isolated and lost. It was so nice to see friendly faces every Monday via zoom.

Blaithin also ran weekly chair yoga classes, these were free to take part in and were also held online. The classes gave people the chance to relax, and chair yoga made yoga accessible to all abilities.

Blaithin and the Havin’ a Laugh team said:

 

Making the decision to attend the monthly Havin A Laugh coffee morning, either in Sligo or in Carrick On Shannon, took enormous courage for many who attended.

With the onset of Covid19 and the resulting forced social isolating / distancing / cocooning and other lockdown measures which the entire country had to adapt to, the HAL support team felt that it was vitally important that the connections made via attending should not just simply come to an abrupt halt.

We polled a number of our regular attendees and it became evident to us that people were as much as, if not in fact more afraid of being cut off from basic human interaction as they were of perhaps being exposed to this virus. We were cognisant of the fact that government guidelines needed to be observed, however; our firmly held belief that engagement is key to optimum mental health led us to the decision to “go virtual” utilising the communications platform ZOOM.

We had a very positive reaction. So much so that we decided to increase the frequency of the virtual get-together to weekly instead of monthly. People were able to connect from the safe environment of their own home. It was not without its challenges; technology can bring about its own set of anxieties, but we encouraged people to at least give it a shot. As it turns out, a number of people who were sure they were going to dislike this new way of connecting, surprised themselves! Persevering in the face of techno-phobia to master a new skill and were delighted with how quickly they “took to zooming.

Physical health is also important and ordinary physical activity such as walking or swimming or exercise class was not an option during lockdown. To this end we thought it would be a good idea to incorporate some easy yoga movements from the comfort of our own chairs in our own kitchens or wherever. That proved to be so popular that we decided to initiate a one hour chair yoga session each Friday morning. Word of that spread as far away as England and Scotland and we were delighted to have a number of people join us from these locations.

“We’re reaching out as we’re reaching up” as one participant put it.

With restrictions somewhat lessened we are in the process of transitioning to in-person gatherings again.

For the moment we will continue to host the coffee morning on-line, reverting back to once monthly.

We feel greatly privileged each and every time someone allows us to be a part of their well-being journey. We’re happy to have played what part we could in helping people to endure during this pandemic.

Blaithin and the Havin' a Laugh team