This spring we are launching Jaw Jaw, a new health and wellbeing initiative that will extend the reach of our events into the homes of the isolated or lonely in our rural communities. Working with health and social care partners, we will extend the joy that Villages in Action brings into homes using technology and online tools.
This project combines our track record of programming performing arts activity in rural communities with the expertise and volunteer base of local social prescribing agencies to deliver an innovative real-time online video conferencing network. We will bring together isolated and lonely people across our communities by enabling meaningful interactions, conversations and activities. This will help develop their ongoing confidence and ability to engage with a wider community and generally improve their levels of wellbeing and mental health.
There are two components to the Jaw Jaw project. Firstly, we will create and schedule a range of regular creative workshops that will engage with its beneficiaries, both online and in person. These workshops will be carefully crafted by selected professional artists and performers and designed to build collaborative community relationships, which in the first instance will include group movement and musical activities. Although initially experienced online, these workshops will culminate in ‘real’ face-to-face activities and performances at local village halls and community centres. These will take once the current restrictions are lifted.
In the second component, our partner social prescribing agencies and their volunteers will provide daily social café style ‘drop-ins’ online, providing an opportunity to engage the beneficiaries and check on their general state of wellbeing.
Jaw Jaw will use Amazon Alexa as the delivery platform, which is accessed through low cost devices and apps that run on smartphones, tablets and even TV sets. They are voice-operated and do not require any keyboard skills or previous experience with computers or the internet. By using these devices and the Alexa platform, Jaw Jaw avoids issues associated with a range of technical ability and experience.
The Jaw Jaw creative workshops will be delivered as group conferences, and the video resources will also be available for the regular social ‘drop-ins’, providing informal cafe and club style meetings, which beneficiaries can access as and when they want.
We will provide upskilling and training to our existing network of promoters to allow the project to be sustained in the future.