Previous experience with this project, and lessons learned through the pilot, proved to be invaluable during the COVID 19 lockdown.
The Rainbow Heron Late Night Cafe Coordinator, Charly Calpin, organised and ran a monthly Sunday Zoom Chatroom where we played a variety of games; shared artwork we had been doing at home; swapped stories of coping with lockdown; and generally cheered each other up.
Previous learning in relation to personal boundaries, safeguarding and acceptable topics online, was invaluable.
The Rainbow Heron Online Chatroom pilot started on a monthly basis in October 2017.
We have found this a safe and interesting method for mutual support.
It provides an alternative means of access for individuals who are not able to come along to the Rainbow Heron Late Night Café project on the last Sunday in the month.
We successfully applied for a small grant to continue and develop the pilot until March 2019
The chatroom is hosted by our Rainbow Heron Coordinator, Charly, with the help of trained volunteers. The team will produce a report to share more widely at the end of the pilot.
Online Chat Guidelines
- Please treat each other with kindness and respect.
- Please think before you make a comment: Could your comment trigger difficult memories or emotions for others? If you feel that might happen, you can send a private message first to Rainbow Heron Team Member: Charly
- There is zero tolerance for name calling. You have anonymity, so you can talk freely, but using this to abuse others will not be tolerated and you will be barred from this chat.
- Talking about harmful behaviours is okay BUT glamourising or pushing of harmful behaviours is also not tolerated.
- We are here to be supportive and this is your place too! Please share things you have found helpful.
- Share what’s important to you and HAVE FUN!
Excerpt from our grant application:
“Waiting times for services such as CBT are around 25 weeks. We are providing instant access and varied ways to support people as they wait for clinical therapies, as well as for those who need low-level support. Our online cafe chatroom is needed because it offers a first point of call for signposting to services, drawing on knowledge we have acquired while running the physical Rainbow Heron Cafe for the past year. The online cafes are growing in popularity with people that both attend our physical cafe and other people who may not be able to access our physical space. We’d like to run them weekly, having piloted the chatroom monthly for 6 months. From our experience of peer support with young people struggling with their mental health, we believe intervening as early as possible is best. Our physical café and the online cafe both operate with the help of young volunteers, providing a low-cost peer support model.”