To help provide extra support for people living in the Highlands during the current period, High Life Highland has extended the range of services and classes available to communities online, using technology and innovation to create new and exciting activities.
Over the past month, the Charity’s teams have put together an engaging range of online content to support the health and wellbeing of people living in the Highlands, including: online classes and a range of free newspapers, books and interactive archive sessions suitable for all. Interest is high, with over 26,000 engaging through its social media pages in the last week alone. For details of activities, with clickable links to the resources, visit:
The Charity made the difficult decision to close all archive centres, libraries, leisure centres, museums and swimming pools across the Highlands in line with both Scottish Government and UK Government’s advice to minimise social contact in mid-March. Since then, staff have been finding ways for people living in the Highlands to continue to access cultural services and classes online where possible, recognising the importance of these to help maintain a healthy body and mind during this challenging period.
The services offered include:
- Online fitness classes from some of High Life Highland’s own instructors, prepared during the time of the lockdown using available equipment and often from the instructor’s home environment.
- ‘workoutathome’, a way to build your own fitness routine available at: https://www.highlifehighland.com/workoutathome/
- ‘Learn with Lorna’, a series of sessions where people can find out more about the work of the Highland Archive Centre with Lorna Steele, a community engagement officer with High Life Highland. To date, there have been over 10,700 views of the series.
- ‘Live’ Bookbug sessions for young people created through High Life Highland’s Library service, enjoying over 9,400 views so far.
- All library book loans have been automatically extended and overdue charges have been removed from 1 March onwards.
- Libraries already have a superb range of free e-books, audio books, newspapers, magazines and learning resources available; anyone new to the service can register online at https://www.highlifehighland.com/libraries/ to view these services right away.
- Supporting the health and wellbeing of everyone in our communities, High Life Highland staff in Adult and Youth Services are ensuring they keep in touch with vulnerable adults and young people on a regular basis, often daily.
- Participants of our Cardiac Rehab, Parkinson’s Exercise, Falls Prevention and Move More (support for people affected by cancer) activities are receiving a personal contact by phone or email from HLH instructors, and supported to continue with their physical activities in a safe and sustainable way, to help maintain and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
High Life Highland teams have also been supporting communities through:
- Guides on how to use online communication tools such as Skype, Zoom and others have been created to help people keep in touch.
- Activity learning kits for young adults.
- Activities for young people through Facebook and other social media, such as ‘live’ bedtime stories and an online Lego club
Steve Walsh, chief executive of High Life Highland, said: “Our staff have looked at where we can continue to provide services to people living in the Highlands during these unprecedented times. By using online channels, we’ve been able to get a number of services up and running fairly quickly; many others are in development and will be available soon for Highland communities.
“Our teams have used technology and innovation to fit within Government working from home and social distancing guidelines to offer services online. We are indebted to our supporters, especially those that have helped to cover the charity’s ongoing overheads by making donations or continuing to pay subscriptions during this period. We are also making applications to other funding available to support organisations such as ours during this period.
“Our services play a major part in individual’s and family’s social lives throughout Highland communities and we’ve already had some great feedback from people using the resources. I hope that these interim measures will help everyone during this time when it is vital that we work together to maintain our health and wellbeing. To keep up to date with what is available in your area, please check our website and social media channels. Thank you to everyone in the Highlands for your patience and understanding at this difficult time for us all.”
High Life Highland will continue to listen to our communities and develop more ways for people to access cultural services and classes and will provide new opportunities through the website and social media channels as they become available.