Lockdown is not stopping Kirkcaldy’s community groups from meeting

Kirkcaldy Speakers Club Zoom meetingKirkcaldy Speakers Club Zoom meeting
Kirkcaldy Speakers Club Zoom meeting | Other 3rd Party
People are adapting the way they do things to keep things as normal as possible during lockdown

The sudden move to lockdown last month has brought many changes to our daily lives.

And for some in the community it’s meant the inability to do certain hobbies and activities they enjoy.

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And they are no longer able to meet up with friends and family.

But a number of local community groups are not letting the pandemic interfere too much with their programme of meetings.

Several of the organisations that are usually found within our community news pages have adapted to continue working in the current situation.

They continue to meet regularly - it’s just in a virtual sense rather than a physical meeting in a local venue.

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We spoke to some of them to find out how they are adapting to the current situation.

Elaine Bowie, from the Rotary Club of Burntisland and Kinghorn, said the group is not shutting up shop, but has instead taken innovative steps to keep the club functioning at a reduced level through the extended use of technology.

She explained: “With the help of our treasurer John Minhinick, meetings are continuing, hosted by the secretary using video conferencing per Zoom.

“Our secretary Mike Gillis has also set up a Facebook B&K members’ forum to socially interact.

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“It’s a great way to inform your friends in the Club what’s been happening in your daily life.

“This is an important addition given that we are largely asked to stay at home.

“The most important reason to meet online is the continuity of fellowship amongst the members.”

However with some members without the technology required to join the virtual meetings, they are contacted by telephone and email as well as receiving a monthly newsletter, the B&K Record, to keep them informed of the club’s progress.

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The Zoom meetings are being held weekly at the same time as normal club meetings, although they are much less formal.

It’s a chance to comply with constitutional obligations as well as for members to enjoy the fellowship of their usual meetings.

Elaine added: “This is a learning curve for us all and the meetings are varied, with some business and some speakers.

“The response from club members has been excellent with an average of 18 out of 29 taking part weekly.

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“Though a lot of our members are in the vulnerable category, some of our members are participating in helping local support groups in Burntisland and Kinghorn.

“The club’s fund raising activities for the year have been put on hold and will be reinstated when the time is right.”

And similarly, Jan Lowe, president of Kirkcaldy Speakers Club, said its regular Zoom meetings are important to its members in “maintaining our sense of club spirit and staying connected through the use of technology” during these unprecedented times.

She said: “Some of our members live alone, some may not have a support network and all are missing the socialisation that comes with attending the Speakers Club.

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“Being in a room, all be it a virtual room, with other people provides that socialisation, friendship and support that is essential in helping to maintain a sense of perspective and normality during these worrying times.

“Members have been really enthusiastic, most have never used this technology but have risen to the challenge and in the process have learnt a new skill.

“Having group conversations and seeing everyone on screen has given everyone a real boost.”

The Speakers Club, which exists for members to support each other in developing their professional and personal speaking ability, normally meets every two weeks from September to April.

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However, its meetings look set to continue for longer than usual this year.

“As a result of our online meetings being so successful we are now meeting up on Zoom every Wednesday from 7pm to 8pm for the foreseeable future,” said Jan.

“We are still practicing our speaking skills by delivering presentations and speeches but mainly it is a social occasion.

“Through sharing our lockdown experiences we are able to support and help each other and offer tips and advice on staying safe, healthy and happy.”

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Kirkcaldy Probus Club has also been hosting regular meetings using Zoom.

Mike Simpson, caretaker president, said member Stuart Rennie and a few others had been involved in setting up the group’s meetings on Zoom.

Although technical issues meant there was no speaker for the first online meeting and Mike stepped in with a presentation on some of his travels, the meetings have been well received by members.

He said: “We’re using the free version of Zoom where you get 40 minutes for your meeting, so in order to ensure we’re using that time for the main meeting, we’ve set up three coffee and chat meetings before hand to replicate the format of our usual meetings when members can catch up with each other before we start.

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“We had reservations about hosting digital meetings as not all of our members have the hardware or knowledge as we didn’t want to deliberately exclude them. Stuart put together a set of simple instructions for people on how to get in to the Zoom world.

“We had 12 people at our frst meeting and asked them to see who they could recruit to join us.

“We then had 18 at the second meeting.”

“But by using the technology, the club are now thinking to the future after all this is over and wondering whether it may be possible for some of the 
speakers at their regular meetings to talk to them through Zoom from potentially anywhere in the world.”

He added: “As soon as lockdown ends we’ll go back to normal meetings as there really is no substitute for social contact and our meetings are an excuse for keeping up with friends.”

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