Beating lockdown blues - the benefits of connecting

In our current climate, staying connected is more important than ever. With a range of formats and opportunities on offer, we're hoping this year's Engage Festival might be just what people are looking for to reconnect, and reimagine the future together.

Living alongside COVID-19 has made 2020 a challenging year for everyone. Since the initial lockdown in March, we have all been through cycles of hope and despair, and as we eagerly await an end to the pandemic, we recognise its impacts are far reaching, and the world that emerges will be different in many ways.

With a weariness from online engagement it can be tempting to batten down the hatches and wait for Christmas. However there has never been a more important time to stay connected, which benefits our mental wellbeing, and helps us to find meaning in a time of great change. Whether it is seeing old friends, or making new ones, we hope that the Engage festival might be just what you are looking for to reconnect to others, make sense of the current context, and navigate the future together. With a range of different formats, approaches and opportunities – the Engage Festival has it all, and for the first time ever, you can access it wherever there is Wi-Fi and a connected device.

So once you have got your ticket how can you get the best out of Engage?

Curate your experience (and book it ASAP): You can choose workshops that work for you, in terms of content, format and timing. Some offer opportunities to respond to the content in small group discussions, others support you to sit back and listen, giving you a chance to reflect on your own, some are fully immersive engagement activities, others are spaces to bring your own ideas and chat them over with other delegates. However you like to engage, there are workshops that will work for you.

Come to the plenaries: These sessions will bring the whole festival together to hear from some inspiring speakers and to discuss interesting ideas. With opportunities to listen, respond, and reflect, these sessions will provide key moments to think together about the now and the next of engagement.

Choose how you want to network: There are a number of formal networking opportunities available. Choose from speed dating on Monday, a living library on Thursday - where you can borrow a book that interests you, a virtual lunch queue – where we emulate the spontaneous meet-ups that happen in the queues for food we so love, and a virtual lunch – where you can eat your lunch with others. For those keen to network outside of these times, why not post up a request on the notice board and ask people to get in touch

Use the Padlet boards: introduce yourself on the registration Padlet – and share your photo so we can put a face to a name; share your ideas, reflections and thoughts on our notice board Padlet – and comment on the ideas of others; tell us what is going well and less well on the evaluation Padlet – so we can improve the festival experience for everyone.

Sign up to showcase your work: It’s not too late to sign up for the showcase open mic event on Thursday at 16:15 – 17:30. Poems, performances, songs, stories, case studies, interesting thoughts, and reflections on the festival themes – all welcome.

Share the livestream: Not everyone will be able to come to the festival, so we are providing a livestream for anyone interested in hearing what’s going on – the live stream show is at 4.30pm every day, and the plenaries on day 1 and 5 will be available on catch-up.

Take breaks: We have left specific breaks in the programme where there is no content – to ensure that everyone gets a break from their screen. Only you know how much time online you can take – but remember to take breaks regularly, and maybe plan a walk to liven up your day. If you have to leave a workshop unexpectedly, or need to mark yourself away as you deal with something, that’s fine – no need to apologise.

Housemates welcome: We are all working in different contexts during lockdown – so children, pets, partners, housemates, friends, toys, and mascots are all welcome – we enjoy seeing them, and if they want to listen in, that’s fine too.

So we do hope Engage 2020 will make a contribution to our lockdown blues – and we hope you will join us and enjoy connecting with delegates, speakers, workshop contributors and the NCCPE team.

Make sure you book your tickets soon!

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