The LA’s Support and Connect Hubs haven’t gone away during lockdown – you’ll now find them online, where they are bringing amputees together virtually.
One of the positive outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the rise in people who were previously tentative about technology taking up virtual communication. Across the UK, we’ve seen grandparents FaceTiming the grandchildren they are apart from, colleagues using Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings and friends doing pub quizzes over Zoom.
The LA has also been quick to adopt technology for our Support and Connect Hubs, which are now bringing amputees together online. David Rose, Chair of the LA and longstanding Volunteer Visitor, says: “We take very seriously our responsibilities in terms of safeguarding our service users, members, volunteers and employees. We have therefore taken the step of transforming the Hub initiative into a virtual event for LA members, family, friends, carers and supporters.”
Easy to access
The Hubs are straightforward to access and are currently on the LA’s Facebook page – look for the ‘Support and Connect Hub Virtually Speaking’ project. To access Facebook you will need to log onto the internet via a smartphone, laptop, desktop or tablet computer. As with real-life Hubs, virtual Hubs are free to access. And, even if you’ve never been to a Hub in real life, a warm welcome awaits you – simply join your local Hub group on Facebook. You can find all of our groups here. All, you’ll need to do is answer three short questions and agree to the group rules.
Hubs aim to reduce the isolation amputees may experience, improve their knowledge on life after limb loss and introduce them to activities to boost their wellbeing and quality of life. Some amputees will be in the shielding group and self-isolating at home, even as lockdown measures are eased. This means our Hubs are now more vital than ever.
Clifton Henry, Hub Volunteer Lead, says the online Hubs have proved a huge success: “I know from comments made by members how much they are enjoying the sessions and cannot wait for the next one. The Hubs are designed to help to reduce the risk of isolation during lockdown. You can also request a triage call if you want one-to-one support. The Hubs mean that you don’t have to suffer in silence.” David adds: “The withdrawal of routine NHS prosthetic services has created challenges, especially for those people in the early stages of their postamputation rehabilitation journey. Now, more than ever, the services provided by the LA can help amputees.”
Online activities Before the lockdown, the LA’s Hubs were also a chance to give new wellbeing activities a go. This is continuing online, so you can try out yoga, for example. “The undoubted highlight of the online Hubs I have participated in has been the sitting yoga and meditation sessions,” says David. Clifton agrees: “I have to say, it’s a session I always look forward – you can just relax and unwind for 10 minutes or so.”
In the past year, the LA’s Hubs programme has been expanding across the UK and funding from local grants has enabled the LA to recruit more Hub Co-ordinators – meet them below. While the pandemic continues, we want to reassure you that the LA has not gone away.
“Our virtual Hubs are a window into the world, where amputees can come together,” says David. “It is so important that people understand that the LA is still providing vital services to our community.” We will be closely following the government advice on restoration of rehabilitation services. As soon as it’s possible, we will be aiming to deliver our regional Hubs on the ground, too. Until then, please do check out the virtual Hubs – as Clifton says: “The great thing is they let you connect with the amputee community without leaving the comfort of your home.”