These are only a selection of live online meetups, and new ones are appearing all the time, so check out the websites of charities and community groups that interest you and see if they are also running a live session that you could join. If you are new to the internet, here’s a handy RVA guide to getting online.
Online chatty cafes and tables
In the last few years, ‘chatty tables’ have been appearing in local cafes and pubs across the UK, offering a place where people can go to have an informal chat and meet others over a cuppa or a pint. Corporates like M&S, Sainsburys and Costa cafe have even joined the movement. Whilst they have closed temporarily, some have switched to an online ‘chatty table’. Here are a few to try out.
- The Chatty Cafe scheme (national). A Chatter & Natter table brings people together and everyone is invited! If you’re on your own, in a couple, with a friend, if you’re a carer why not sit there with who you care for, mums and babies, dads and babies, grandparents and babies, young people, older people and anyone in between! During the lockdown they are holding virtual Chatty Cafés on Zoom – offering a chat, face to face, for a good old chatter and natter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom meeting ID.
- Frazzled Cafe (national). Frazzled Cafe is a registered charity that operates with the purpose of providing a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment where people who are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life can meet on a regular basis to talk and share their personal stories. Rhiannon Stocking-Williams from RVA participated in a Frazzled Cafe session recently – check out this RVA News article to see how she got on
- Virtual Red (On)Lion Pub by Campaign for Real Ale. CAMRA has created a virtual pub for beer drinkers and pub-goers to get together for a beer and tackle the loneliness and social isolation felt during the Coronavirus lockdown and closure of the nation’s pubs. The Red (On)Lion is a video platform where anyone can join the public bar for a lively chat over a beer or book a table to set up video conferencing for up to four participants. Coming soon: The virtual pub can also stream various pub quizzes, activities and events taking place online, bringing all virtual social activities in one place for the pub-seeker.
- The Virtual Village Hall is a programme of themed online activities from the Royal Voluntary Service, designed to enjoy at home. Sessions are led by expert tutors, activity coordinators, volunteers and some well-known faces, and require very little space or equipment. You’ll find a wide range of sessions to take part in, like creative arts and crafts, music and singing, cooking and baking, dance and exercise, and technology skills. Join in with live sessions or catch up on demand when suits it you. https://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/virtual-village-hall/
- Online quizzes. If you fancy your chances at a quiz, lots of local community and neighbourhood groups including charities like Reading Mencap, are running regular live online quizzes.
- Mental Health Mates (national and Reading). MHM provides a healing environment, but it is not therapy. It is run by people who are not experts in mental illness, but who have endless experience in it. It is peer support at its finest: they have seen people thrive and come alive though their local walks, not to mention forming friendships that help people move forward and grow. Following government advice on social distancing, all MHM meet ups will now be taken online until further notice. MHM Reading Group is running online meetups every Saturday from 10.30 on Zoom. Here’s the meeting ID: 321-107-444.
- Jelly, the Award-winning Reading arts organisation, has been hosting a number of creative online meetups including book clubs and knit-nights. You can find out how to join a number of activities they are doing by visiting thejellyreading.eventbrite.co.uk, following @thejellyReading on Twitter or visiting their Instagram page at instagram.com/thejellyreading.
- Berkshire Vision have launched a Remote Activities Programme. Download the calendar for May here. Participants don’t need to have a computer or internet access as they can dial in from any telephone. Berkshire Vision are happy to continue taking new referrals, either for this programme and/or 1:1 telephone befriending calls. Read more on the Berkshire Vision website.
Other local live online groups
- Compass Recovery College is running courses online. If you would like to register for a course, or join up with Compass please call 07739-823140 or email email@example.com.
- Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) are moving to online classes from May 2020.These are structured classes for women rather than chat groups. Visit their website or call 07923 138 681 for more information.
- Home-Start Reading have a closed Facebook support group for parents with under 5s with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and at their Wokingham Centre, Helen Hart, is hosting two drop-in sessions and a coffee morning via Zoom each week (Drop-ins: Wednesday 9.30am -12.00 and Thursday 19:00-21:30; Coffee morning: Friday 09:30-10:30). She will be joined by Early Years Practitioners from Home-Start centres who have a wealth of knowledge about activities and child development.
- The Workers’ Education Association (WEA) is offering over 500 courses online, including ESOL, Community Interpreting and a wide range of community learning courses, free of charge this summer. In addition to formal courses the WEA has also extended their offer to include informal drop-in and taster sessions. Participants can join one of their regular sessions for some bite-size learning or even simply a chat and the chance to make a connection. You can find out more here: www.wea.org.uk/ActivitiesLive