In three years, the group has continued to go from strength to strength as a result of regular monthly meetings. As a consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, face-to-face meetings were abruptly put on hold, leaving the group to find new ways to remain in contact.

Molly, who was instrumental in setting up the Friendship Group, was first to suggest the group take the meetings online using online video-calling platform Zoom when the lockdown was introduced. Since then Molly has continued to lead the way and influence how the meetings are structured.

Particularly notable was Molly’s idea to host question and answer sessions, which has encouraged each member to share their views and helped personalities to thrive, generating further discussions. Molly’s sessions have become a highlight of the meetings for many members of the group and has even inspired others to step up and lead their own sessions, including Friendship Group member’s Meg and Ollie.

Personal growth

For some members of the group, taking the meetings online has had a surprisingly positive impact on their personal growth and how they will approach life after lockdown.

Meg had previously attended meetings in person, but would often feel anxious before attending, which would leave her less likely to contribute to discussions. Now Meg can join meetings with the click of a button, allowing her to channel her creative energy into the group, which has proved to be a great success.

Speaking about meetings, Meg said:

 "I found that when we meet in person, I was more reserved. Going online has helped me to be more confident."

As a result, Meg has become a driving force in changing how the group's meetings are structured. Recently Meg lead a creative writing session, which encouraged everyone to contribute and ultimately feel heard.

Peter Connor, Great Communities Manager added: 

"Meg tapped into people's emotions. She is slowly realising she has leadership skills."

Increased Accessibility

Hosting the Friendship Group online has also allowed meetings to be more accessible for new members, such as Ollie. Before the lockdown, Ollie had several commitments including paid employment and volunteering roles, which meant he had never attended a Friendship Group meeting before.

When lockdown began, Ollie found that he now had the time to attend and hasn't looked back since. Meeting with the group has given him the confidence to host a quiz. Using the experience, he has also hosted a quiz for his whole family, bringing them closer together during this challenging time.

Referring to the group, Ollie said: 

"It's like a friendship family."

Whilst the lockdown has proved challenging, how we adapt has never been more important. For the Friendship Group, taking their meetings online has given rise to new and inspiring leadership styles from many members who may not have felt they had the confidence or opportunity to lead before.

Lockdown Diaries

We hope that collecting lockdown stories will help people to deal with difficult emotions through sharing, and that in the future it will be an important document of how we dealt with the lockdown.

View the Lockdown Diaries Gallery