The Islington Chinese Association (ICA) is another group that we’ve been able to support thanks to the donations to the Islington Giving Crisis Fund. ICA provides a safe space for the Chinese community in the borough. During lockdown, they have offered online services to their clients and as the lockdown is easing down they are hoping to continue this online help.
Digital tech had never been a priority for a local front-line service provider like the Islington Chinese Association. They have always welcomed Chinese and non-Chinese residents to St Gabriel’s Community Centre to offer direct advice, cultural events or hold regular activities such as Tai chi, dance or Mandarin for beginners.
The pandemic has meant having to adapt quickly to a new online reality. Many of ICA’s clients are older and are non-English speakers; for them it’s been hard to adapt to computers and tablets. The staff held virtual discussions to find the best ways to help people access services from the comfort of their homes. They also decided to develop a long–term Online Befriending Service to reach out to the most isolated service users so that they could continue connecting with people and feel less lonely. “I don’t know what online is about. I did not know I could see people’s faces and talk to them like this, thanks for teaching me this new gimmick”, said ICA user, Chan.
Many of the residents have had to face the loss of loved ones to the virus and face long-term post-traumatic stress disorder, loneliness, anxiety and isolation. ICA’s priority is to make sure they get the help they need, and online services will continue during the next few months.
John’s befriending calls during Covid-19
John has been making befriending phone calls to members of the Islington Chinese Association during this period, “we wanted to bring members the message that ICA’s community centre was still “open” for them”, explains John. “They would describe the dishes they had cooked, or talk about TV programmes they had watched, etc.”, says John.
“We also provide Zoom classes and activities that everyone can join for free”, including, physical exercises or online Karaoke, says John and adds, “and we are sending out a ‘Staying Well Connected’ e-bulletin to keep residents informed ”.
You can also watch a motivational video ICA volunteers have created for residents called ‘Tomorrow Will Be Better’.
ICA is located near the North route of #WalkTheLine2020. Get fit, raise money or just have fun walking Islington’s border until the end of September! The route covers the whole borough boundary and is the length of a half marathon (12.98 miles). Find out more about Walk The Line.