By Dan Barron, Community Organiser
I have been lucky enough to be able to support the A Reason to Like Mondays (ARTLM) throughout the pandemic with several activities. The group are based in East Dene, St James Church room and they offer help, support and advice to parents and full-time carers of children pre-birth to 18. The group offer somewhere for people to go once their children are at school or if they are a full-time mum. St James Church offers a place where they can relax, have a chat or even a rant about what is going on in their life. Since COVID19 restrictions were implemented in May, the group have consistently provided a virtual coffee morning, which have totalled 21 sessions to date. The group have adapted to the pandemic and continued to engage with their group members via online coffee mornings. The virtual coffee morning is averagely attended by 3-5 members every Monday morning via zoom and the online Facebook page has 65 members who it is supporting.
Claire Drury is the community leader of the ARTLM coffee mornings at St James Church and has attended a training session that RotherFed were able to provide on how to work safely in a community setting during COVID. Claire had done this to be able to provide a safe environment for the volunteers and their members. The ARTLM were able to have a social distanced coffee morning recently before lockdown measures were again changed (Rotherham entering tier two restrictions and then tier three restrictions in October) due to the rising cases in COVID19. I have nothing but praise for the group, although they were very disappointed to close the sessions immediately after reopening. However, the group had enjoyed the new activities immensely, they instantly took the appropriate actions to then close it down and restart the virtual coffee mornings each week. As a community group they have adapted to COVID19 and have been very flexible about how they can operate. Sam Dixon who hosts the virtual coffee mornings for the group each week is always looking for ways to improve her own skillset. Sam has completed suicide prevention training and shares any training she had complete herself and the importance of training with others in the group. The group have been open to fun activities for their children as well as allowing us to host a tutorial on how to make masks that are safe as well as a fun.
I regularly attend the coffee morning to join in on the conversations with the group every Monday. I am able to bring up any training opportunities within the group or let the members know about up and coming competitions such as Rothersteps, Crafty Talk Crafty Packs, Make a mask and the East Dene Scary Scene competition. Several members of the group have participated in competitions we have ran in the East Dene areas. I have regularly posted on the Facebook group page about the new guidance on COVID19 which is a is a frequent topic in the coffee mornings. We are all able to support each other with information with regards to public service changes and useful bits of everyday information.
RotherFed are supporting the group to start talks about creating a funding bid to create a SEND youth club. The parents group all have things in common and want to be able to create a SEND safe environment for parents and children. They are discussing with a volunteer for another SEND group the feasibility of creating such a project which we will continue to support them with. The group has such great members and shared experiences, and I am sure they will continue to bring a sense of community to its members and any projects they decide to create in future.