Adapting a drop-in service, weekly clubs and interest-based activities to exist online seemed unlikely at the beginning of social distancing but the community at LINC, as an organisation, has managed this transition successfully.
They have, happily, not just continued to exist online over the past number of weeks but something incredible has happened – with the enthusiasm and help of the community and commitment of their staff they have managed to continue much of what they do and expanded how they do it on a variety of platforms.
Their drop-in service operates Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday through a Facebook drop-in group and through gatherings on zoom where community members from all around the country come to chat with one another and the staff, much as they would at White Street (you just have to bring your own coffee!)
This is a private Facebook page which is accessed by sending a request to join to LINC Virtual Drop-In. They also have an ISL (Irish Sign Language) interpreter on their zoom call on Wednesdays. ISL is used by the deaf or hearing-impaired members of the lesbian/bi community and hosting drop in with an ISL interpreter offers participation from as many of the women in the community as possible.
In an attempt to ease the reality that many women are missing the sports groups they attend (such as soccer, walking etc.) they have set up a Pledge for Health page on Facebook that sets daily physical activity challenges Monday to Friday keeping the community moving with social distancing in mind, but the body is not the only thing they are trying to keep fit; this week LINC launched a community-led online learning programme.
LINC Online Learning (or LOL) offers ukulele lessons, the basics of sight-reading, Pilates, meditation, German lessons, Alexander Technique and computer coding for kids and their parents. They have had an enthusiastic response so far and, thanks to some incredible volunteers, these classes will continue throughout lockdown.
While they are missing their usual Spring outing with children from the community, they have asked the youngest members to send in their best Easter drawing with the creative talent being showcased on their social media platforms over the weekend keeping us all connected and together.
Some of their clubs that can run online continue including drama on Tuesdays, Artist’s Way on Saturdays and Book Club on the first Friday of each month. Staff members also continue to be available for one to one support over private Zoom calls so “if you need to chat or would like to get involved please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re still here for you!”
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