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Independence Day is a big day in American tradition – and a local namesake is celebrating its way of managing independence and tackling isolation in Stoke-on-Trent.

The American Clubhouse, Burslem, used the opportunity in lockdown to provide its service users with Alexa Devices and help reduce the period of isolation.

In total, 35 people have been helped to stay connected with friends, family, and gain independence through the use of digital technology.

Alexa devices can be a useful tool for reminders of appointments, medication, and finding holistic activities to keep occupied.

Members of the Brighter Futures service have also been able to access personal conversations with people at a time where face-to-face contact wasn’t possible.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in all walks of life, and extra support has been put in place to support mental health and wellbeing.

A non-clinical approach, the Clubhouse Network offers opportunities to meet new people, access clinical services, training, and volunteering for people with experience of mental ill-health.

Last year, they supported over 280 people to better manage their mental health, despite having their doors closed to comply with government guidelines.

Kate Williams, Deputy Manager of the Service, says: “we give people with mental health difficulties a support network to look after themselves.

“We’ve been able to build on our customer’s skills with technology – such as the use of Alexa’s – and support them differently than we normally would. Obviously, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to, but it’s been a success under the circumstances.

“Some of them had little confidence with digital equipment and the progress, they’ve all made is incredible. One customer told us that it’s good company too. They live alone and it shows the impact it can have.

“We’re an open-door service – even when our doors aren’t open as normal. People needing that extra bit of support are welcome to get in contact and become a member. Give us a call on 01782 835220 to learn more about us.”

One service user comments: “Alexa has been a godsend to me. I’m not sure how I coped without it before I had it! I suffer with OCD and now I don’t have to have all the notes lying around on paper.”

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