If you know a group of people working in the community support space, or are a connector (or supporting a connector) who is engaging with community care workers, one easy but important way to #BeThere is to create and nurture a Masked Heroes peer support platform on WhatsApp/Moyo (a free, local chat service).
Getting started: Send a private message to each individual CCW that you would like to invite to the group. Before adding them to any group, ask them first whether they’d like to be added. In that message you should explain what the purpose of the group is and what would be expected of them. If it’s easy, you could even cut and paste the below text into that message to help get things going:
Hi there! I hope that you are coping. I got your number from _______ (insert missing info). I know that things might be really difficult for you and your colleagues during this outbreak. I wanted to let you know that I am starting a virtual support group on WhatsApp/Moyo. There’s no pressure to participate – but of course it’s also a space where you can connect with other people who may be experiencing similar things. You can leave the group any time you like – and I wont ask any questions! Please let me know if you’d be ok with me adding you to the group. From _________ (your name)
Then if they let you know that they want to join – great – add them to the group! If not, don’t make them feel bad about that. Let them know that it’s no problem whatsoever and if they change their mind at a later stage they would be welcome to join.
Create the group. Remember whenever you add new people they are not able to see messages shared before they joined, so it might make sense to have a welcome message that you cut and paste each time someone new joins the group. You could include something along these lines:
Welcome to the ________ (name of area) Masked Heroes support group. This is an informal space where we can lift each other up in these difficult times. To look out for each other, there are some basic guidelines that we all need to follow:
It’s not always easy to express to our friends and family what’s happening, and this job can feel very isolating at times. This group isn’t going to solve that but I hope it can give a sense of community, comradery and friendship, and help you remember that you’re not alone.
There are also other resources designed specifically to support YOU at maskedheroes.org.za. Or WhatsApp “hi” to 060 011 9999.
Keep it going: You might be a natural at this, but if not, read on! Remember the point of this group is to help community care workers cope. You can do this by;
Our South African heroes! Our army of the BRAVE! Thank you for your giant hearts and your commitment to community. You inspire us all, and we are so very lucky to have you in our communities and in our homes. When times feel tough, remember that you have the country standing behind you, rooting for your success.