Over 30 online communities to help keep spirits high among brain injury survivors and their families during Covid-19 lockdown.
Covid-19 self-distancing means you may not be able to meet face to face with many of the people you care about but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ‘virtually meet up’ with friends or see something new – there’s a whole universe of virtual worlds out there just waiting to be explored!
Here’s a list of some online community sites offering internet-enabled social connection or simply a scope of what’s happening outside your front door.
Remember when you join some community sites online, you may meet people, groups or organisations you know, or you could find yourself networking with strangers.
It is important to make sure you stay safe while using these sites. Ask someone you trust for advice or your neuro OT can help guide you. Further information about staying safe online can be found at the bottom of the page.
Bring the big outdoors indoors via internet-linked video cameras called webcams that send or ‘stream’ images to your television, computer or mobile device at home.
Natural History Museum - a virtual tour: an interactive online guide features virtual reality, a 360-degree tool, short films and even Sir David Attenborough for you to take part on your own self-guided tour of over 300,000 specimens. More here: Virtual Natural History Museum - 12 ways to explore from home
The National Trust: Awe-inspiring houses, stunning gardens and breath-taking scenery are still open for viewing via virtual tours here: The National Trust - virtual tours
British Library: of course, there are going to be books – millions of them! But you can also take virtual tours around Harry Potter: A History of Magic or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland exhibitions, or travel around 30 digitalised historical globes, some dating back to the 1600s. Read more here: The British Library - research, inspiration and enjoyment
The National Gallery: a 360-degree tool takes you around 18 rooms housing thousands of publicly owned artworks from the UK and Europe. Treat your eyes to all sorts of art here: The National Gallery - Virtual tours
British Museum: delving through two million years of human history, art and culture will likely take a lot longer than Covid-19 lockdown. Find the virtual galleries here: The British Museum - virtual galleries
National Wildlife Trust: peek inside the intriguing world of wildlife and watch animal behaviour up close here: Wildlife Trusts - webcams
Buckingham Palace: Receive a right Royal welcome when you take a tour around Queen Elizabeth’s London residence here: Buckingham Palace - The virtual tour
Stonehenge: believed to date back to 3000BC, this mysterious World Heritage site is a culture vulture’s must-see. Visit Salisbury’s ancient stones here: Stonehenge 360
The World: put a pin in a map or choose your destination. From the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean to the Grand Canyon, USA, and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, dive in here: Google maps - about treks or here: Earthcam
The Solar System: soar through the stars on a five-minute journey through the breath-taking Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) here: Lights over Lapland
Social networking sites link you to other members who you can then chat with via text messaging or, with some of the sites, video calls.
There are many social networking sites but some of the best-known include:
Lots of local community and support groups also host online sites for members to chat or exchange information, advice and services.
A good place to start looking for them is your local council’s website which you can find via the Government’s website here: Gov.UK - Community support groups
Neighbourhood Watch: a well-known organisation that fosters trusts and respect among neighbours by bringing them together to create and maintain safer communities. “We help people feel less afraid, vulnerable or isolated in the place where they live.” Find them here: Our watch
Nextdoor: This site offers free networking with neighbours within your local area. There are mixed reviews about the benefits and drawbacks of Nextdoor so it’s well worth checking that you’re are happy with all of its features before you sign up. More here:Next door
PC Gamer Club: Hosted by the UK’s PC Gamer magazine, this international site is for those who play games on computers. For a small monthly fee, subscribers can meet other gamers and access free and new games. It’s here: Club PC gamer
Tabletop Gaming: Hosted by Tabletop Gaming and Miniature Wargames magazines, this site also signposts tabletop gaming enthusiasts to over 500 tabletop clubs around the UK. If you enjoy playing cards, board, party or war games or role-playing, this is a good place to start: www.tabletopgaming.co.uk
The UK Games Expo: You’d expect the largest hobby games convention in the UK to bring gaming fans together and it does, but not just at the annual August show. Here’s a list of clubs that can be contacted at any time of the year: UK Games expo - games clubs
Patient Gamers: if you’re a gamer who prefers to wait until the often-hefty price of a new video game drops, or until other players have reviewed its worth, you’re a ‘patient gamer’. More here: Patient Gamers
Game Detectives: if you enjoy solving puzzles and mysteries, you may like to investigate this site in which players use real-life clues in ‘alternate reality’ games. Inspect it here: Game detectives
Health and hobbies
Headway’s Health Unlocked: “A great platform to ask questions and have a non-judgemental conversation about brain injury” is one user’s summary of this engaging forum for brain injury survivors and their families hosted by the brilliant Headway – the brain injury association. Find it here: Health unlocked - Headway
Fansites: Fan and supporters’ clubs and forums offer a way to connect with other like-minded individuals and share the enjoyment.
A quick internet search of your hobby, sport or interest should point you in the right direction.
Singing: from rock to classical, community choirs won’t be silenced by Covid-19 and there are lots of opportunities to join in. Here’s a useful BBC round-up: Orchestras choirs and music masterclasses
Keep fit: choose from a wide selection of keep fit classes and workouts to keep you active and moving during the lockdown. A current UK favourite is here: Youtube - keep fit classes
Dancing: if you can’t keep your body still when there’s music playing, you might like to try an online dance class or video. See if this one sets your fingers or toes tapping: NHS - Fitness studio
Martial arts: practise your karate or Thai Chi or learn a new martial art from scratch. Here’s a good place to kick off: NHS - Guide to tai-chi
Quizzing: win prizes or giveaways or simply enjoy pitting your wits against others in an array of online quizzing forums, including one hosted by TV quiz show favourite, Eggheads. Crack it open here: Facebook groups - Quizzed
Staying safe online
When you join some community sites online, you may meet people, groups or organisations you know, or they could be strangers, so it is important to make sure you stay safe while using these sites.
Headway – the brain injury association has put together ten of the best tips for internet safety here: Top ten tips for staying safe online - Headway
Further advice on how to use video calling here: Helping brain injury survivors use video calling technology
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