In each of four areas across the city, TDC and our partners hold regular sessions for service providers to meet one another, share information and find ways to support community members by working collaboratively.
Over the past year or so we have seen these sessions, formerly known as “hub networking”, grow in popularity and these sessions have typically been held in community locations across the city. Fuelled by coffee & croissants, and facilitated by TDC, (or by our partner The Hangleton & Knoll Project in the West), the sessions have given service providers the chance to meet each other and discuss how to support communities and each other in their area.
Evolving over time to address the needs of the participants, sessions in 2019 saw the Moulsecoomb & Bevendean group take a trip to learn about community activity in Hollingdean, and one East Brighton session took place on a basketball court, as participants took part in a wheelchair basketball game to challenge them to come out of their comfort zone.
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 brought a halt to face-to-face events, our networking events have moved online. After a number of sessions held via the video conferencing platform Zoom, we’ve had some great feedback from participants, with one saying of our first online session in the Central area: “Thanks Emma, it was a great session and lovely to see/meet everyone. I found it really useful to hear challenges and successes, think everyone’s doing so brilliantly, it’s incredible what strength and resourcefulness everyone has when faced with challenges from all directions. Look forward to catching up again in June“. Another attendee said “These meetings are the best on Zoom I have been to professionally since lockdown!”.
People providing a service role have quickly had to adapt to new ways of working. Most people are working from home where they can, fitting work in with family life and care commitments, plus finding new ways to communicate with colleagues and engage with people who need the services. Many essential services have been quickly redesigned to fit the unusual circumstances and it has been useful for participants in the meetings to discuss these with each other. Other positive effects we’ve seen have been members of the sessions learning new online skills, different people able to attend the sessions who couldn’t make it in person before, and reaching new people through online connections.
As lockdown eases and the transition to social distancing becomes the “new normal”, it is essential that service providers continue to communicate with each other to deal with the next challenges that arise. Some of these might be how to restart activities and encourage people to attend, respecting people’s legitimate concerns about gatherings and using public transport.
Community Development Worker Emma Reeves says “For those working pretty much in silo these sessions have been a bit of a life-line to work and a catch-up with familiar faces. The Zoom sessions have maintained the dialogue between workers reducing the gap when we do eventually meet in person. It has meant already people are agreeing to work in partnership as a result of the meetings which may not have happened otherwise. In East there are lots of creative ideas to bring community members together to celebrate their resilience and emergence from lock-down”.
If you would like to join a session you can find upcoming dates and details of how to join on our networking page.