Providing support services is different online to face-to-face. There are several areas that people running sessions need help with. Think about:
Technical confidence. Do the staff understand how to invite people to meetings, and how to keep personal data safe? Do they know how call privacy can be put at risk? This is more than just how the call software works.
Session dynamics. Many facilitators are used to relying on body language and appearance to help them gauge people’s wellbeing. When those elements are not available, what can they rely on to help them manage session dynamics? Do they know how to introduce activities that help people speak up?
Dealing with difficult participants. Facilitators need to know the tools available to control how sessions flow. They also need to know how incidents should be reported and what safeguarding follow ups are required.
With You have 2 training modules. Staff or volunteers complete these before facilitating the groups. One is training in safeguarding online and the other is training in running groups.
They also provide a '10 key steps' guide to running the sessions. It includes details on session planning:
Choose a date and time for your group. Think about how suitable times for an online group may differ from in person attendance.
Remember if you add service users onto the calendar invite they will all see each other’s email addresses.
You can leave the meeting in your own calendar and copy the details into an email or text for service users. Remember to BCC service users. Include the google meet code and the phone number plus the 9 digit PIN for people not able to join via the internet.
With You found that some staff were particularly nervous about working with new service users in online groups. So they built extra support into the training and into how people are invited to sessions.