CF: How has lockdown and social distancing affected your ability to fulfil your projects and provide community art counselling? And how have you changed the way you operate?
RM: The lockdown has definitely impacted on the delivery of our programmes. We could not continue seeing our beneficiaries in person. Our small, but amazing team adapted quite quickly to the changes. We now deliver content via videos to our beneficiaries on WhatsApp and social media. We call this programme Online Open Studio and it is free to anyone who visits our website or social media platforms. The lockdown and the resulting challenges, especially food security in the inner-city, prompted us to support our beneficiaries and families with food vouchers. It has also become one of our main focus areas for fundraising. We run monthly workshops and all the proceeds go towards these food vouchers. One of the interesting things that happened as a direct result of the lockdown and food voucher programme, is that we now have a much better relationship with the parents and caregivers of our beneficiaries than before. We use phone calls, SMSes and WhatsApp to check-in with parents.
When we do see our beneficiaries now, such as with the Teen_Connect programme, we have strict hygiene protocols in place. We meet them outside, where there is enough ventilation and fresh air, we stagger the groups coming to meet us to ensure we don’t have a crowd, we all wear masks and protective clothing and we practice social distancing.