Fun ways to connect

Idea's on how to connect with older isolated people during the Coronavirus outbreak

April 20, 2020

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Whilst face-to-face coach runs are temporarily suspended during the Coronavirus oubreak, runners have been contacting their coaches by other alternative methods. Emily McGovern from GoodGym Southwark has been going the extra mile to connect with her coach. Here, she writes about the games she has been posting Ms E and gives ideas to inspire others.

I was paired with my coach, Ms E, in February this year. We had only had the privilege of meeting in person twice before social distancing kicked in. In those meetings, I'd cycle to her flat (as my ankle was recovering from an injury so no running for me), let myself in, and have a chat whilst sitting on the sofa. Ms E was particularly keen for us to dust off her Scrabble set - and as a keen board-gamer, I was very happy to oblige. Both visits we had a very enjoyable game (I won't tell you who won...).

I'm now calling Ms E a few times a week for a short chat. She is self-isolating and whilst her carer comes each day, she is not able to see her family - except when they pop past her window.

Now, more than ever, the coach relationship is incredibly important.

We were both sad not to be able to continue our scrabble games, and I quickly gave up on the option of trying to play online. But I knew there must be a way to play games over the phone so I canvassed some friends and fellow goodgymmers and have come up with a list of games that I want to share. We've only played a few of these so far and some were a little slow getting going but once we were there, it was great fun!

Scrabble anagrams If your coach has a scrabble set, they can select 7 letters from the bag and read them out to you. If they don't, you can choose them at random. Then you simply take it in turns to find a word and see how many you can get together. You can score it if you want - according to scrabble rules or simply based on the length of the word.
I decided to make my own version of these for Mrs E to play throughout the week so wrote out a few ‘scrabble racks’ which I sent to her in the post.

The Alphabet Game This is a really easy game to play over the phone. Think of a topic and then try and name something of that topic for every letter of the alphabet. We started with flowers and had a great chuckle when Mrs E said 'cauliflower' for the letter C. We didn't quite finish the alphabet as it was her dinner time so I drew a copy out for her to complete in her own time!

We haven't tried any of the following games yet but there is plenty of time...

20 Questions Think of an animal (or object, place etc) and get your partner to guess by asking yes/no questions. Can you do it in 20 questions?

I Have Never A little like the drinking games many of us have played - only without the drink and ideally a lot less crude! You take it in turns to say something you've never done before (e.g. driven a car, been to America, ridden a horse, cooked okra...) and see if your partner has. This is a great way to get to know each other and can start some fascinating conversations.

Word Association Game Think of a word and say the next thing that comes into your head - simple! It's good to get the older minds flowing and can cause some giggles along the way.

Bingo Bingo over the phone? You each pick 15 numbers from 1 to 99 for your own bingo cards, then you pull numbers from a bag to read out.

Mrs E and I have been building up our relationship nicely over these recent weeks. Some days, the games provide a great focus, allowing us to play as if we're together. Other days we just chat. Today she was feeling quite spritely and we had a lovely conversation. She's given me a recipe suggestion (for ocra) and even suggested that after my long week at work, I kick back with a nice tipple. Great idea, Mrs E!

I hope you find some of these suggestions useful and are able to give them a go. I also hope you’ll share more ideas if you can!


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