The best advice I could give is to forget the past way of working and embrace the new. If this kind of thinking can be fostered and internalised by your organisation… you will experience more a sense of excitement around the interesting challenges you now face.Donald Grieve, Curnie Clubs Network Project Manager
After our first blog in this series on hybrid working we were approached by other groups that wanted to share their experience with using a blended approach of face-to-face and virtual services.
Over the past month, we have heard about the benefits and drawbacks of hybrid working and hope that our readers have been able to take some of these into consideration when adapting their services. Today we meet a Fife group who offer support to people who feel socially isolated through online and in-person group activities.
The Curnie Clubs Network
Fife Alcohol Support Service received £187,930 of National Lottery funding for their Curnie Clubs Network project. Through therapeutic group work and intense individual work, they provide an emotional support network for people experiencing isolation and loneliness.
They run activities throughout Fife, with clubs running in Dunfermline, Kirkaldy and Leven. Before the pandemic they had six venues where they could run some of activities, however five out of their six venues are still closed. So they have been encouraging and supporting more autonomy within the groups.
This has led to members feeling more empowered to reconnect with society. Their team also have an office space in Kirkcaldy. However they currently work from home where possible to follow Scottish Government Guidelines.
They have created a hybrid working model that they continually update and review to ensure members feel included. Donald Grieve, Curnie Club Network’s Project Manager tells us his thoughts:
“We have created a hybrid model and describe this as temporary because one great learning curve is that the pandemic is still very much with us and we should keep vigilant and be prepared for further change at any point.”
They too noticed one of the drawbacks of moving services online was trying to work with members who don’t use technology, as reaching out to them and giving them telephone support was labour intensive.
Supporting your staff
Donald also believes making sure your staff have enough support is vital to prevent burn out, and to keep your services running effectively.
“One great danger is the mental health of your workforce… They are dealing with the personal changes that come with the pandemic and work life being changed completely as well. Make time for informal gatherings with staff to allow for the social aspect of work to continue.”
The costs and benefits of operating online
Donald also highlighted that initial costs of moving things online were high, including buying technology and software as well as setting up staff training:
“Our funding officer was very understanding and allowed us to move our methods of working to suit the crisis… You have to keep in mind this hybrid model is not instead of normal activity, it is in conjunction with and it all comes at a cost.”
However, he believes there have been many benefits to operating online, with staff telling them they are reaching more people than they have done in the past. They now have various activities streamed live into people’s homes, making them easier to access.
The project now runs both online and in-person activities for free and all members have access to their private Facebook group, so they can feel more connected. Members who cannot actively engage with at least one of the main groups are supported by their befriending volunteers. Some of the activities they run include a walking group, crafts workshops and gardening.
To become a member you can visit their contact page.
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It has been amazing to hear about the different ways our grant holders have adapted and overcome the challenges they have faced when adopting a hybrid working approach.
Thank you to all of the groups that took the time to chat with us over the past month and shared their wisdom on this new way of working!
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