Jaw Jaw is a new project to extend the reach of our performance events into the homes and lives of those most isolated and lonely – both young and old – in our rural communities. The project is designed to test new online methods of supporting these groups and bringing some of the joy and fun that rural touring provides in our area by working with health and social care partners active in our communities. Performing groups including Devon based Jane Mason Dance and Wren Music, will support a programme of online interactive taster programmes to draw these audiences into our fold.
We are using Voice Activated Devices which will allow members of the community with little or no keyboard skills to access online workshops, drop in sessions and cafe style events from their own homes. The devices have been purchased with support from Smartline’s Idea Generation Grant was which has allowed us to develop the initial equipment infrastructure, research and development costs to allow creative practitioners to target specific audiences.
Apart from involuntary isolation because of geographic location, many isolated and lonely people are so, because they believe they have nobody to talk to or meet with, and, worse still, don’t have much reason to do so. Therefore, simply giving them easier access to online services and communication systems achieves little. However, despite offering captivating reasons to connect and an easy way of doing so, there is still the task of persuading individuals to take the first steps toward engagement with Jaw-Jaw and to continue to do so. Using the Alexa platform helps overcome this, not only by giving those with little or no computer skills an easy way to connect to Jaw Jaw (and other online services), but also by facilitating the delivery of proactive ‘push’ notifications, reminders, automated alarms and schedules. In this way, individuals can be actively encouraged to engage in activities rather than passively relying on them to remember or care to connect.
We have just taken receipt of the devices and our community leaders and artists are now becoming familar with them and we will be rolling them out to participants who will be referred to us by GP practices and social prescribers in the next few weeks.