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Museums open virtual doors to help community tackle lockdown loneliness

PUBLISHED: 08:30 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 09:04 01 May 2020

Norwich Castle’s monthly creative writing workshop, Castle Writers, is moving online and goes live on Saturday, May 2   Picture: Norfolk County Council

Norwich Castle’s monthly creative writing workshop, Castle Writers, is moving online and goes live on Saturday, May 2 Picture: Norfolk County Council

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Norfolk County Council’s In Good Company campaign is helping tackle loneliness and keep people connected during this difficult time. It’s latest initiative sees Norfolk Museums throw open their virtual doors to encourage creativity during lockdown.

From my Window by Claughton Pellew is the first inspiration image for the #NMSInspired project   Picture: Norfolk MuseumsFrom my Window by Claughton Pellew is the first inspiration image for the #NMSInspired project Picture: Norfolk Museums

When our usual weekly routine has pretty much been thrown out of the window and we are adjusting to a new normal, it is easy to feel rather out of sorts.

We are, by our very nature, creatures of habit, so not being able to visit familiar places or go to our regular social gatherings is certainly uncomfortable for many.

And of course, many of these places provide a valuable sense of community. In Tuesday’s focus on loneliness we looked at what Adult Learning had to offer. This time we’re looking at the Museums Service to see what it’s doing to help tackle loneliness during the coronavirus crisis.

Places like our museums serve to bring people together through group activities and courses. But Norfolk Museums is not leaving us out in cold just because the physical doors are shut! The museums are still inviting us in with welcome arms – just slightly different looking arms.

Norfolk County Council has relaunched its In Good Company campaign to help people stay connected through the coronavirus crisisNorfolk County Council has relaunched its In Good Company campaign to help people stay connected through the coronavirus crisis

The team at Norwich Castle has created a wonderful opportunity to be part of an online community, whether you just want to observe and watch, meandering through online exhibits or if you fancy trying your hand at some creative writing, there is something to make sure that no-one staying at home feels lonely.

If you’re keen to get involved with the Norfolk Museums community, keep in touch with them, and meet others along the way then check out these great activities:

Journeys Through a Pandemic – Lynn Museum has created a contemporary collecting project in response to the current situation and inspired by the museum’s exhibition: Journeys, ‘People, Places and Pilgrimage’.

It looks at the different types of journeys people make, and Lynn Museum is asking members of the public to document their experience of the coronavirus outbreak by responding weekly to a set of two questions about their feelings and experiences. These stories will then become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Brenda ODowd is a volunteer co-ordinator at Swanton Morley Parish Council and has been visiting vulnerable residents in and around Dereham as part of the Breckland Covid-19 response   Picture: Norfolk County CouncilBrenda ODowd is a volunteer co-ordinator at Swanton Morley Parish Council and has been visiting vulnerable residents in and around Dereham as part of the Breckland Covid-19 response Picture: Norfolk County Council

If you’re based in West Norfolk and interested in taking part or know people who would be, email lynn.museum@norfolk.gov.uk

Castle Writers – Norwich Castle’s monthly creative writing workshop, Castle Writers, is moving online. The first in a series of special resources goes live on Saturday, May 2.

These have been designed in partnership with author and regular Castle Writers’ tutor, Amanda Addison, and are for you to use at home.

Each digital workshop will offer several writing prompts to choose from, using objects from the castle collections to help inspire you!

#NMSInspired – Norfolk Museums is encouraging people to use the hashtag #NMSInspired as a fantastic way to continue to be part of the Instagram community. It encourages people to use the museum collections as inspiration for creativity.

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The first piece of art used in the project is “From my Window”, a Fine Art wood engraving from 1925 by Claughton Pellew.

Liz Elmore from Norwich Castle Museum said: “We have several of Pellew’s works in the collection and this one is a wood engraving on paper. We chose it as the first inspiration image for #NMSInspired project with the suggestion that people can get creative and share the view from their own window.”

You can follow @norwichcastle and all works shared using #NMSInspired will become part of the larger online ‘exhibition’ which people can browse and explore via the hashtag.

The project will promote wellbeing through creativity, while at the same time creating an online record documenting the lives of Norfolk communities during this unprecedented moment in our history.

In Good Company Hero

Brenda O’Dowd is one of the team of Breckland Community Support Volunteers visiting vulnerable residents in and around Dereham as part of the Breckland Covid-19 response. 

Brenda, who is the vice-chair of Swanton Morley Parish Council and volunteer coordinator, said: “This project was set up to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on our community. It brings together 30 enthusiastic volunteers from the surrounding villages, to coordinate their efforts and to respond to the needs of the parishioners.” 

The initiative is supported by surrounding villages and parish councils, and is doing a great job of keeping people connected and supported.

Brenda continued: “We are there to help the vulnerable, those in self-isolation or those shielding following government advice. We will pick up a weekly shop or urgent supplies, post mail, take prescriptions and collect medication, walk your dog or just have a friendly chat over the phone. 

“The support and dedication of the volunteers, and the village shops, in helping our community is invaluable.”

Better Together

Voluntary Norfolk’s Better Together service has been designed to support people who are lonely or isolated. It is offering some really creative ways for people to connect online, including a daily 2pm Facebook Group as well as a Better Together Helpline, where a team is on hand for a friendly chat.

For more information call 0300 303 3920, or visit www.bettertogethernorfolk.org.uk or www.voluntarynorfolk.org.uk


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