“A few months ago, I could not have imagined chairing an online meeting but that’s now happened!”
As Phyll, Chair of our Exeter Support Group highlights here, Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) volunteers running support groups across the UK, have been learning new skills and trying out new technology in an effort to stay in touch with their members over the last year.
There are 58 local support groups and teams around the UK, from Aberdeen to Guernsey, and the Isle of Man to Ipswich, all led by dedicated volunteers.
With face-to-face talks and social events cancelled during the pandemic, and not all of their members having access to computers, some have been sending out cards and newsletters, while others have made individual phone calls.
Many groups have now started to meet online, initially for their committee meetings, and then for open meetings and talks too. We know it can be very daunting giving new technology a try, but we have been so impressed with everyone's positivity and willingness to get involved.
There are advantages to online meetings too - people can attend from a wider area, groups can combine forces to hold regional talks, and you don’t have to turn out on a winter’s evening to attend, joining from the comfort of your sofa instead!
We've also created a new volunteering role over the last year - Online Champions - to help groups get going online. The first three are already supporting different groups all around the country.
We recently held a series of online networking meetings for volunteers from across the UK to meet each other, share ideas and hear about the challenges and opportunities the pandemic has presented. These sessions proved really popular and nearly everyone said they would like to see more meetings like this in the future.
So, whilst nobody would have wished for the last year, with the help of our amazing volunteers, the ROS has been able to maintain its support network for people living with osteoporosis across the UK.
Find out more about your local support group and the activities planned for 2021 on our support group pages.