How is Covid-19 affecting your work?
A month ago we had to close The Workshop because the government declared a state of emergency and all schools closed down. Since then, we have worked on setting up an online safe space where we can still share educational materials, chat and play games with our beneficiaries. We've spent some time testing different ideas and ways to reach the students, also keeping in mind that the internet connection in asylum and reception centers isn't always best. We've also set up a new Code of Conduct which has been adapted to online volunteering.
We've set up a Facebook group where we're active every afternoon. We share various activities and questions to students and engage with them in the comments. We experimented with online lessons using the Nearpod platform and this week we start offering 1 on 1 classes via Skype. Our community outreach activities have been put on hold.
What does your current day-to-day look like?
We interact with beneficiaries in the group Monday-Friday between 4pm-6pm. We schedule 3-4 engaging posts every day and our students/volunteers interact with each other in the comments.
We're offering Serbian, German, English, French and Maths lessons to our students via 1:1 Skype calls. We're also sharing posts and resources that help support their well-being and stress during this difficult time.
How do you think it will affect the project long-term?
No doubt this pandemic will have long-term impacts on the way we do our work. International travel restrictions may affect the number of volunteers that work with us, uncertain economic times could affect funding opportunities and rising anti-refugee sentiment and scapegoating rhetoric may make things even more hostile for our beneficiaries locally. Which is why it's vital that we continue to support them throughout this difficult period. The Workshop always existed as a safe space for refugees, and as we venture out of the pandemic and into new unsettled times, the need for a safe space is even more paramount. We will remain student-focused and will build what they need, to see this time through.