Let’s be Alone, Together

Let’s be Alone, Together

By Stella Nicholls 

Missing family and friends is probably one of the most difficult aspects of being in lockdown – the need to socialise. That, plus finding fresh eggs and toilet paper, perhaps. Which means that today, more than ever before, the ability to video call and connect with loved ones – friends and family or work colleagues (also loved ones at Team Grow) and anyone else, is crucial.  

 As we self-isolate and do the right thing by staying at home, we know that we are playing our part and collectively protecting ourselves and our NHS aka ‘our heroes’. We also know that staying at home, although nowhere near as challenging as being out in the field like our heroes, has its own set of challenges too.  We are grateful, therefore, that our nation is still able to reach out and connect with each other, albeit in a virtual capacity. 

We gather together digitally for encouragement, for connection, for hope, for information and even instruction from our leaders.  And even when the images of our loved ones are distorted through a bad connection, or when nan focuses the camera on the bottom half of her face, it is still so damn good to see her, self-isolating and well! 

Shout out to the businesses who are working through the challenging times to provide us with the means to connect. 

WhatsApp is a great and easy way to stay connected and provides the means to video call our loved ones, chat in groups, and share images and recipes across cyberspace.  But it goes deeper than that as WhatsApp recently launched its Coronavirus Information Hub to support health initiatives whilst donating $1m to the International Fact-Checking Network for #CoronaVirus Facts Alliance. 

The WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, in partnership with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and UNDP, provide simple, actionable guidance to health workers, leaders, businesses and local governments that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.  It also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours and connect with accurate health information. 

There are plenty of apps available if you want to pop onto a video chat, and many provide good quality chats that are almost as good as the real thing.  Team meetings across the country, or board meetings from the comfort of an armchair, perhaps starting a new trend of dressing smart from the top up, whilst remaining comfy in tracksuit bottoms below – out of camera range.  

It is always good to do a bit of research and look at the reviews before opting to use one over another and check the best and worst reviews out before deciding.  We’ve included a few here but there are many out there, so whether you are wanting to check on your loved ones, such as an elderly parent who may be lonely in self-isolation, or a full-scale team meeting, there is sure to be something for you.  

Facebook Messenger has a video chat option, which can be used on both Android and iOS mobile apps and is available for computer users, making it a versatile way to stay in touch. All you need is a Facebook account.  Facebook has also taken steps, since the Coronavirus outbreak, to make sure that everyone receives accurate information and to stop misinformation and harmful content.  

It’s understandable, during these unparalleled times, that we feel the need to find answers, which makes the task for keeping things real and factual even more important.  Staying as close to the source as possible is a good shout, so if facts are needed about NHS volunteering opportunities, for example, go to the NHS. 

Another app which has been around for some time for Windows users is Skype.  It comes bundled with Windows, which means that most people have access to video chat using their Skype account.  Also, if an elderly relative is struggling with technology but they are used to their computer or laptop, it might be a good place to start.  

For Apple users, FaceTime is a great way to get in touch with other Apple Users and it comes on all Macs, iPhones and iPads. 

Google Duo is a video chat mobile app created by Google is free to use and suitable for Android and iPhones.  It features group calling which is handy when you want to bring multiple family members, or friends together in one call.   

One app which has experienced rapid user growth since the outbreak of Covid-19 is Zoom. In the last few weeks alone, it has been downloaded more than 50 million times from the Google storeIf evidence be needed that people are missing each other, then that is surely it.   Zoom offers a free basic plan for personal video chats (Packages for small teams and medium-sized businesses would incur a monthly fee), is user friendly, and anyone can join by clicking a link – meaning those who may be more ‘technically challenged’ should find this a breeze.  It has enabled families to connect for a multi-screen call and with a mission statement to ‘deliver happiness to our users!’, it’s easy to see why it has grown in popularity recently. 

Whatever the app, one thing is certain, one of the most important things during these challenging times, is to stay connected.  To our loved ones, our colleagues, our clients and our friends. Perhaps if we know of a vulnerable person in isolation, reach out to them, we could be the only human contact they’ve had today.   After all, our mental wellbeing is as important as our physical wellbeing.   

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