Having Fun at Home with Digital Social Clubs
Do you enjoy discovering things about the past? Are you a fan of arts and crafts? Maybe you’re a bit of a bookworm? Are you looking for ways to connect with new people? Then, History, Health and Happiness’s Digital Social Clubs may be for you!
In this blog post, we will introduce you to two of our digital social clubs: the Museum Make-A-Long and the History Book Club. We aim to answer some questions you may have and give you a flavour of the sessions. More information about how to join is included at the end.
Heritage Doncaster’s History, Health and Happiness programme aims to use history and storytelling to help people feel more connected, spark conversations and help people to feel good about themselves and where they live. Before the COVID-19 pandemic History, Health and Happiness put on regular social clubs across the Borough, enabling people to meet new people and try out new skills. In Spring 2020, our digital social clubs were born, as a way to give people chance to meet, have a chat and discuss history when meeting in person isn’t possible.
Museum Make-A-Long: Main Facts…
• Runs the third Tuesday of every month, 11.00 am-12.00pm
• Participants are sent out craft materials ahead of each session
• Participants craft along whilst learning about and discussing history that relates in some way to that craft
• We look at an item or items that relate to the craft from the Heritage Doncaster’s collection
The Museum Make-A-Long so far
September 2020: Decoupage
We each had a go at doing some decoupage on a box. We discussed what it could be- perhaps a memory box or time capsule. We explored the originals of decoupage, a time capsule discovered at Doncaster Grammar School and even looked at Andy Warhol and his rather controversial time capsule boxes.
October: Viking brooches
Together we made Viking brooches, discussed Viking symbols, and their various meanings and had a go at a game of Viking symbol bingo.
November: Sweet treats
We made marzipan fruits and explored a brief history of sugar, discussing Doncaster’s famous sweet confectioners; Parkinsons toffee and Nuttal’s. Members shared their own childhood memories of sweets.
We made Christmas tree decorations in December and discussed Christmas traditions through time.
January: Cross Stitch
We had a go at some cross stitch, examined cross stitch samplers in our collection, and also looked at famous embroideries like the Bayeux Tapestry.
What do our members say?
‘What I enjoy most is chatting with the people of the group and listening to their stories about everyday life and I enjoy the history part too. I have enjoyed all the sessions because I didn’t realise I was that creative. The facilitator was very good and encouraging and explained everything to all of us.’
‘I really enjoy the sessions as we can learn and adapt new crafts, that we have not done before, plus we are all in the same boat learning together becoming friends and discussing everyday life and learning the history of then and how it has influenced the futures. I do not have a favourite because they are all new and exciting to me.
The History Book Club – Main facts:
• Runs every other Wednesday afternoon (or bi-weekly) 1.30pm – 3.00pm.
• The group meets digitally, twice a month, to discuss a period of history using Heritage Doncaster’s digitised collection one week, and on the second meeting to discuss a book relating to the same period of history. The chosen book is read between sessions.
• The group also enjoy regular quizzes and activities relating to history and Doncaster’s collection and sometimes receive extra activities and reading to do in the post.
• Discussions continue between sessions on the groups Facebook Page.
Summary of the sessions so far
The History Book Club has been running since August. Our first session was on Coal Mining in Doncaster and we had a go at Pit Talk Bingo. Since then, we’ve explored the Industrial Revolution, Locomotives and The Plant Works, The Tudors, The Victorians at Christmas and Women’s Suffrage. Here are some of the books we’ve enjoyed along the way:
- The Price of Coal
- Liberty’s Dawn
- How to be a Tudor
- Christmas Carol
- How to be Victorian
- Struggle and Suffrage in Sheffield
What do our members say?
“I really got into the Tudor book, it opened my eyes to what lengths they had to survive and to keep up with the fashion. Would like to have a go living like a Tudor for myself, and/or having a go at some of the descriptions in the book of making clothes and food. I am also looking forward to reading more books by the same author.”
“I loved today’s session!’
What to expect in a digital social club
Q. How do the sessions take place?
A. The sessions take place on Microsoft Teams.
Q. What if I’m not very good with technology?
A. We can help you get online if you haven’t used MS Teams before. We offer a 1:1 introduction to the technology if this is something that would help you to feel more comfortable. We always have someone on hand to help if you have difficulty logging on. We appreciate that technology and the internet isn’t always perfect, and have all experienced issues at some point and can empathise and help you.
Q. Who comes to the sessions?
A. People from all walks of life come to the digital social clubs, ranging from people in their late 20s to those in their 80s. This intergenerational approach is wonderful, as people are able to share varied opinions and experiences. Some members are retired, others attend during breaks at work, some are mothers, some are students, some are history buffs, and some are new to discovering the past! Our digital social clubs are welcoming, accessible and friendly spaces.
Q.Who leads the session?
A. The sessions are led by one of the History, Health and Happiness Team. They are there to introduce objects from the museum collections, share historical knowledge and keep conversation flowing.
Q. What topics do the sessions cover?
A. That is up to you! Members of the club shape what we discuss and we give opportunities for participants to express areas of history that appeal to them. We also welcome members who want to share their skills too, for example you might be a budding seamstress keen to demonstrate your needlework and help beginners with their crafts. Or perhaps you are exploring you family history and want to share your findings?
Q. Does it feel like school?
A. No! There is lots of space in the social clubs for discussion, and there is a lot of laughter! We don’t want people to feel like they are at school or have homework, but we might ask or encourage you to share an object of your own, a photo, a memory, a story. You won’t be put on the spot during sessions, and we encourage you to contribute as much, or as little as you would like.
Q. Will I be able to take part?
A. The Digital Social Clubs are designs to be accessible. We encourage you to let us know if there is anything we can do to make your experience more comfortable. Some people who attend our sessions experience anxiety, or other mental health issues, or may be feeling lonely. We will work with you to support you and understand what you need to be able to get the most from the session.
Q. How do I sign up?
A. Email us or call us on 01302 737339 and leave a message expressing your interest and we will send you a form or give you a call back.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The History, Health and Happiness Team: Victoria, Mina, Blaise and Katie.