Director of Services and Deputy CEO, Royal Voluntary Service
Virtual Village Hall offers a wide range of activities to take part in online, promoting wellbeing and keeping people active and occupied through the pandemic.
We’ve seen first-hand how people’s health and wellbeing is suffering due to the pandemic and have been carefully adapting our services so that we can continue to offer vital support.
In normal times, our volunteers would run hundreds of exercise and activity clubs up and down the country, providing people with the opportunity to stay active, socialise and try something new.
Research earlier this year identified that almost three in 10 (29%) over 50s had been unable to do any of the things they used to enjoy.
Creating a virtual community
Knowing how important these groups are to participants, earlier this year we built a Virtual Village Hall. From Bollywood dancing to laughter yoga, and baking to Pilates, people can join in at home and also meet friends and share feedback on the sessions they take part in.
Sessions are led by expert tutors and you’ll even spot the odd TV and radio personality, like actress, singer and broadcaster Elaine Paige OBE, MasterChef winner Irini Tzortzoglou and BBC Radio 2’s allotment gardener, Terry Walton, who have all hosted Q&A’s or tutorials.
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all of our lives and resulted in countless changes in our daily behaviour. Many of us feel that our old life has been put on hold, and that we can’t do the things that kept us active and connected to others. In fact, our research earlier this year identified that almost three in 10 (29%) over 50s* had been unable to do any of the things they used to enjoy.
We hope that the Virtual Village Hall can help keep our bodies and minds active, and fill the gap left by the closure of so many clubs and groups. People can watch or take part in live sessions or catch up with a pre-recorded session at a time that is convenient to them.
Activities take place daily in the hall and are easy to search by theme, like health and wellbeing, exercise and dance, music and singing and gardening and nature. There aren’t many online resources where you can try learning to play ukulele, try a beginners’ ballets class or make a delicious meatball dish all in one place!
Getting immersed in learning a new skill can be good for mental health and reducing anxiety, and with many of us spending a lot of time cooped up inside, it’s never been more important to prioritise wellbeing.
*Statistics source: Royal Voluntary Service research in October 2020 of 2,724 respondents aged 50+ in the UK