Since lockdown in the UK, many Erasmus+ beneficiaries have felt concerned about their projects and working remotely. But it’s also led to an important discussion on wellbeing, both for beneficiaries and participants.
There has been an increased awareness of mental health and the impact a lockdown has on people’s wellbeing. During the height of the lockdown, in April 2020, almost one quarter of UK adults felt loneliness, leading to concerns of the lockdown’s long-term effects on mental health.
For our #epluspeople, many of them are looking at wellbeing as a top priority. How have they been supporting each other and finding new ways to connect and work together? Read on to discover more.
A helping hand
Throughout lockdown, online resources have been a great way for beneficiaries and participants to continue their Erasmus+ projects. When student Phoebe Hanson’s exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, she decided to take part in the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange programme.
Phoebe discovered huge benefits and utilised online tools to connect with others. She said:
“I met so many lovely friends and learnt so much about the topic of youth, peace, and security. My cohort made a Facebook group that we used to do our final assignment and now we keep in touch using it. I loved it so much that I joined another virtual exchange!”
Through this project, we created a reminder for members of our groups, as well as members of the community, that nobody is ever alone.
For others, they found a helping hand in the friendships they made during their Erasmus+ experiences. This is true for participant Valerie Shelina, who was in Paris when lockdown began. She explained:
“The ‘highlight’ of my experience was being stuck in my completely abandoned dorm for the majority of the COVID-19 lockdown. Being non-francophone made communication with the outside world almost completely impossible. Yet, during the pandemic I made a friend for life - my dorm-mate whose family adopted me for the duration of the confinement until the restrictions were eased.”
We’ve also seen many come together to create inspiring content, with the aim of raising awareness of wellbeing, such as Hallie Brady, a Young Leader from Preston Impact Youth Group.
She created a video with other young people, aged 11-16, where they performed a song from a musical using British Sign Language (BSL). Hallie said: “Wellbeing is an important topic to us as a youth group, so I decided it would be a good idea to create a video to a song that had meaningful lyrics that everyone could relate to on some level.
“It was hard for all involved: learning the sign language, getting all the parts finished, editing it all together, whilst being up against a deadline. But we did it! Hard work paid off on all angles and I felt so proud to see the final product. The video was a surprise for the youth workers, as they had no idea what we were up to!
“Through this project, we created a reminder for members of our groups, as well as members of the community, that nobody is ever alone.”
The power of talking
It goes without saying that communication is a vital part of supporting the wellbeing of others. In our blog post about working remotely, Clare Jeffries from Portal Training advised others to check in with people and keep communication open.
The power of talking is always important in supporting others’ wellbeing. It’s been a key focus for organisations like Momentum World and their Time for Tea project. They encourage young people to discuss issues and encourage creative thinking and social action.
One of their participants, Jack Bonnington, said: “Before I started the project, I had little experience of group speaking and presenting but I have gained so much confidence in this area.
“It has also developed my self-confidence by making me realise that I have the capability to achieve more than I previously thought. As well as these benefits, the project has also developed my creativity and organisational skills.”
Do you have advice on supporting participants during lockdown? Let us know your experiences by completing our top tips webform.