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News item

Virtual FAN an exciting new direction for FAN Groups

on Sunday, 22nd March, 2020

Trying to be creative in these challenging times … we know many FAN Group regulars and newcomers love the weekly face to face meetings. And we know that not everyone has access to, or familiarity with, electronic tools and social media. FAN Group Facilitators and the FAN Charity staff are trying hard to think of ways of keeping in touch with these FAN Friends.

However, many others do use social media. So one way forward is to have Virtual FAN meetings whereby we join together to have a live meeting in which we can see and hear each other, while each person is in front of their own smart phone, tablet, laptop or pc in their home. We can then have a standard FAN meeting. You see the live face of each participant on the screen.

For this we use Group messaging, video conference or Group Chat applications. There are different systems offering this service for free – so far we have used Facebook Messenger for Android and Zoom Video Communications.

During this past week we had trial virtual meetings using each of these applications. The screen shots in the picture show the people in two meetings facilitated by Ian Thomson on Saturday 21 March 2020 at 11:00 (using Zoom) and 15:00 (using Messenger). Our FAN Friends in St Neots in England had a further Virtual FAN at 16:00 on Saturday.

One particularly exciting dimension to this development is we can connect again in a meaningful way to FAN Friends who are now living outside the UK or have moved to somewhere in the UK currently without a FAN Group. So, we had friends speaking from Finland, France, Italy and Spain today, as well as others living in the UK but originally from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as those of us from Wales, England and Northern Ireland.

All went well today as (inevitably) we talked about Coronavirus and how it is affecting us personally, and how our different countries are reacting to the crisis. Some moving stories and thoughtful insights. Like any traditional FAN Group I am sure all participants felt better and more positive at the end of the meeting.

Of course there were a few technical hitches – few of us had ever taken part in a Group Chat before this week and I, for one, had never even heard of Zoom. So, we are learning on the job! But an experiment we are excited to further roll out in the coming weeks.

Future Virtual FAN Meetings

Look out on the FAN Groups Facebook page and on our website for details of our next Virtual FAN Meetings in the coming days, and what you need to do to take part. FAN Group Facilitators will be in touch with individuals in their own Groups.

Of course when the crisis is over we will restart actual FAN Group meetings as soon as possible. But, I predict that, Virtual FAN Meetings will become an integral part of FAN going forward. Ian Thomson FAN Trustee and Facilitator

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