Older people looking to beat the boredom of isolation are invited to visit the Virtual Village Hall, a new programme of online activities from Royal Voluntary Service, the national charity delivering the volunteer effort for the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme in England.

The Virtual Village Hall is a programme of themed video sessions led by expert tutors and some well-known faces, Royal Voluntary Service activity coordinators and volunteers, and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Activities include gentle exercise, arts and crafts, cooking and baking, technology skills and quizzes with beatboxing, laughter yoga and Zumba Gold planned too. Winner of The Great British Sewing Bee 2019, Juliet Uzor, will be demonstrating how to sew a simple tote bag and couture stitcher Georgina Bellamy will introduce basic embroidery for beginners.

Sessions will be available seven days a week with both live and pre-recorded activities to join in with. Some downloadable guides will be available to print and share and there will be links to official government guidelines and COVID-19 information.

The charity’s hundreds of social clubs and groups are unable to meet during this time so the Virtual Village Hall programme is designed to bring people together to enjoy activities at the same time. The first live sessions will be:

Tuesday 28 April at 3pm: Zumba
Wednesday 29 April at 3pm: Laughter Yoga
Thursday 30 April at 3pm: Royal Academy of Dance Silver Swans beginners’ ballet class

Lockdown is encouraging many older people to try out new technology and to appreciate the benefits it can deliver. Royal Voluntary Service is making it as easy as possible to access the Virtual Village Hall via the Royal Voluntary Service website. All sessions will be available to access on demand on the Virtual Village Hall YouTube channel.

"Our volunteers run hundreds of clubs and groups in local communities which, with the support of People’s Postcode Lottery, support people to be social and active. Sadly, with social distancing rules in place, these activities can no longer go ahead. Lockdown conditions are particularly tough for older people and those living alone and we wanted to offer something practical to relieve the sense of isolation and boredom that many people will be experiencing. Visitors to the Virtual Village Hall will find lots of activities that they might already enjoy doing as well as a wide range of new things to try. Activities have been designed specifically for older people to do at home and require very little space or equipment."

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive at Royal Voluntary Service

Supporting the Virtual Village Hall is Royal Voluntary Service ambassador Felicity Kendal CBE.

"I’ve visited several Royal Voluntary Service social clubs run by volunteers and have seen first-hand the difference they make to people’s lives, particularly for those who may not socialise or see other people regularly. During this challenging time when we can’t get out and about, it’s vitally important for our health and well-being that we find ways to keep our brains working and our bodies moving. The Virtual Village Hall is a great way to enjoy the things we like doing and to learn some new ones too. I'm looking forward to being able to visit more Royal Voluntary Service social clubs once this very hard time is over. We must take comfort in the fact that although we are isolated, we are all in this together."

Royal Voluntary Service ambassador Felicity Kendal CBE

"We’re delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting Royal Voluntary Service and the Virtual Village Hall. Keeping busy and maintaining a sense of routine have been shown to be helpful in supporting mental health and wellbeing during this time, and learning new skills benefits all of us, whatever our age."

Hazel Johnstone, Senior Programmes Manager at People’s Postcode Lottery

For further information

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

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