The sudden arrival of Coronavirus has meant that we have all quickly had to change the way in which we work, communicate and learn.

In this time of social distancing, office closures, and widespread working-from-home, the Living Life to the Full team have continued delivery of their courses through a video conferencing platform.

It’s a true saying ‘you’re never too old to learn’. We have had fun and laughter as we have adopted new skills, discovering lots of new features and ideas to continue with our Train the Trainer workshop courses which have now moved online.

Online Workshops and Training

The online workshop format we have adopted is structured in a way that enables participants to learn and be engaged similar to the way they would in any group training setting. The training is delivered by breaking up the agenda into digestible chunks over the period of one day. We have used many features such as ‘waiting rooms’ to ‘raising hands’ ‘chat, that can be picked up at break times’ and helps things run as smoothly as possible.

We have learned how to use the various features, from ‘virtual waiting rooms’ to ‘raising hands’, we have found video conferencing is designed to help your meetings and training sessions run as smoothly as possible.

One of the video conferencing packages we use features a ‘breakout room’. Breakout rooms let you separate people into smaller groups, where they can practice learning tasks together, and then come back to the larger feedback discussion with the trainer.

When we utilised video conferencing for our two most recent  Living Life to the Full training days. We used different platforms for each (Microsoft Teams and Zoom) to test different delivery models. It was delivered with the standard timetable 9 am till 4pm, except we added screen breaks. Regular breaks are critical in keeping participants engaged. We found a good rule is 50 minutes of learning and 10 minutes to stretch those legs or get coffee, allowing all participants to focus for a set period of time with limited distractions.

The LLTTF team organised the handout resources (printed books and worksheets) for attendees in advance and these were distributed by post prior to the training day.

Feedback from attendees at LLTTF for Young People 

Overall the feedback was very positive, with some attendees saying they preferred e-delivery to attending a classroom- based delivery. They found it to be more relaxing, not having to travel or arrange time off from work etc and this allowed them to focus on the content.

Attendees felt it was it was a more compact way of delivering training- with no wasted time during sessions, again just focusing on the content.

The downside to this style of remote training is the lack of networking you can do with other attendees – e.g the sharing of ideas and informal conversations which normally would have been done at lunchtime and in small group discussions don’t take place so easily.

We have discussed this in the team and believe there are a couple of ways in which this could be potentially addressed; you could (with attendees permission), share attendee details after the training day in order for them to put questions or suggestions to each other in their own time. We could also utilise the full features of video conferencing such as ‘breakout rooms’ for them to chat during breaks as explained above.

At LLTTF we use a training acceptability feedback form for all our training days; here are some of the comments attendees made:

‘The video conferencing training delivery was excellent.’  ‘I would consider using it again as an option for the delivery of other courses’. ‘The presenter was interactive with the group and offered opportunities to contribute where possible’.

At LLTTF we deliver regular training to various services who work directly with members of the public using our resources to teach and support people using an educational life skills approach based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles.

We have been given a good insight into how the classes we deliver have been able to assist those within the community during this difficult period of lockdown by one of our partners.

Jeanette Allen, the Recovery College Co-ordinator from RAMH North Ayrshire Wellbeing & Recovery College has kindly shared her experiences of delivering the LLTTF classes with her client group, via Zoom.

They had initially booked 4 sessions of LLTTF with one of their Peer Volunteers, supported by their administrator managing the Zoom and breakout chats. They have been successful with 12 people signing up for the 75 minute sessions covering each class. They all stayed engaged which enabled them to extend the training to deliver all 8 sessions. They have been able              to send books out to the attendees to assist with the training.

Attendees commented about their learning experience on the Living Life to the Full course:

“In the last few days I have been feeling more positive about things and also more motivated. I’m not sure if things are starting to ‘click’ into place. I think the Recovery College courses we have been doing online have been really helpful. The Living Life to the Full course has given me a lot to think about- that you do things, you feel better, you feel better you do more things.”

 “Having suffered from anxiety and depression on and off for over 30 years I have just realised that I have been focusing more on the anxiety part. Probably because this has seemed the most distressing part to me. I now see through doing the LLTTF course that my lack of motivation and not being bothered doing things is part of the depression that needs to be worked on also.”

This feedback reinforces the importance of continued access to treatment and support for any existing mental health problems. Delivery online is simply another way of delivering access to this teaching. The Living Life to the Full work undertaken by North Ayrshire Wellbeing and Recovery College during lockdown has proved vital to those who depend on their support and they have been able to continue to make improvements to their well-being during this time:

“These sessions have kept the momentum going in my learning. I am especially enjoying Claire’s Living Life To The Full. It has been a real eye-opener. She explains everything so well -I always thought this was just me that thought in this way. I was beginning to think that this was just the way I am and would just have to accept it. I don’t think like this anymore and am hopeful for the future.”

The RAMH North Ayrshire Wellbeing & Recovery College are delighted that their trainers have been able to continue to deliver our service to those in need at this time:

“Being a Peer Volunteer Trainer with LLTTF has given me back so much. There are lots of little sparks of hope and enthusiasm. People feel safe when they realise I have lived mental health experience, we all get it and people let the barriers down. LLTTF was a powerful tool when I first did the course at the beginning of my recovery journey and now doing it online I can share that I still use it. It has also been powerful to share that the best tool we have in our recovery journeys are ourselves”.

“I have got so much out of helping others, being able, in a breakout room to answer questions on what has worked for me and offering suggestions that are taken on board has been very worthwhile. I am seeing within 2-3 online sessions the positive changes in people. I have literally seen pennies drop during our online conversations. My group are surprised when I remember what their goals were from the previous week when I ask how they achieved their tasks.”

As well as running our Living Life to the Full classes online, the Recovery College has successfully used online conferencing to run lots of interactive activities such as their hugely popular drumming workshops.

 “I am getting more used to the drumming on Zoom as well. I don’t feel as awkward as I used to. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and let myself go a bit.”

Jeanette feels that the online training has gone down well, with so much learning in such a short period of time. Find out more about the North Ayrshire Wellbeing & Recovery College services here.  

To find out about upcoming Living Life to the Full online training visit where we describe our available training options, or get in touch to discuss a bespoke training service. Our new range of workshops are now online. We hope to see you at one of the events.

The Living Life to the Full Team.

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