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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Carry On Co-producing! – Staying in touch during lockdown

By Rory, on 14 April 2020

We thought we’d share some ways to stay in touch with family and friends and tips to help you adjust to social distancing while continuing to co-produce. 

Social isolation needn’t mean that you can’t keep in touch friends, can’t co-produce or can’t do things you love! It just means adapting how you do it. During this period of lockdown it is important to recognise that these coming months are going to be challenging for all of us, which is why we thought we would share some ideas of how you can stay connected, most of which are free! This is the first blog in the series, we plan to follow with more very soon.

We’ve found some of the tools mentioned particularly useful for co-producing, we’ve given these a star in the list below. If you have any additional resource ideas that we haven’t mentioned, please share them with us, as we’re interested but also so we can include them in later blogs. We are currently working out a plan for taking the Centre sessions virtual and if we haven’t already will be in touch with as many of you as possible to find out your preferred way of being involved.

Online tools for staying in touch or co-producing

This isn’t an exhaustive list, just a few things we thought that you might find useful…

  • Zoom* – provides online video calls, meeting space, messaging and file sharing. A Twitter poll we ran the other week showed us that this was by far your preferred online call tool (85.7% of you said so). Zoom has developed a set of resources especially for this challenging time. They have also implemented a recent update in response to recent security concerns highlighted in the press.
  • Microsoft Teams* – is automatically available on most Windows operating systems, to find it use your search box to look for it and then sign in with your email address. Microsoft Teams meetings can also be used as an event space with up to 250 attendees. You can choose to restrict the meeting to a defined list of people, or open it up to anyone.
  • Google Drive* is free to use and makes it very easy to create shared documents and spreadsheets. Google also provides a comprehensive guide on how to use their G Suite service, which offers further features for a monthly fee.
  • Flock is a chat tool for teams that allows you to continue with projects and keep collaborating while being apart. Flock is just one example of this type of service, this article offers many alternatives.
  • Twitter – if you don’t already follow us please do @UCL_CoPro! 🙂 Twitter is not only for publicly posting your thoughts and keeping up with others. In addition, it allows direct messaging between users, and it also has the Periscope feature that lets you share what’s happening around you from your phone, with the whole world or just a few friends, as it happens live. A Periscope broadcast is a live video stream. Viewers can engage directly with the broadcaster and other viewers through the use of real time commenting and hearts. A stream can be as short or as long as you want.
  • Instagram – similar to Twitter, this app also has a live sharing feature. To start a live broadcast, you only need to follow a few simple steps (it is a section within ‘Stories’, so you will have to scroll down to ‘Live video’).
  • Google Hangouts* – an easy-to-use and free tool to run online video calls or chats with up to ten colleagues and friends. Following this handy guide can help you get started.
  • Facebook* – public pages or private groups can be set up so that a group can chat. Alternatively, you could create a group chat on Facebook Messenger.

Image showing point A and point B with images of different ways of communicating in the middle (Image credit: www.helpscout.com)

Other ways of staying in touch or co-producing

  • Letters*
    Why not send a letter via Royal Mail? This way you can keep communications flowing with people who do not or cannot use digital services. You can also share documents that you create as a group so people can comment on them.
  • Phone calls and conference calling*
    If you have a mobile phone or landline you could use this to call people or take part in conference calls (if you have minutes free). Alternatively, Whatsapp offers free video or audio only calling (to one person or a group) provided you have access to an internet connection. Whatsapp is also of course well known for it’s instant chat function, also very useful.
    Or Zoom offers a comprehensive package called ZoomPhone, for setting up your own dialling system on your computer. It unifies phone calls, video calls, and webinars into one desktop app. It is a rather high-tech solution, so setting it up requires more time than other options shared in this blog. A simpler option is to dial into a Zoom call using your landline or mobile phone rather than your computer. You won’t have a video but you will be able to hear and interact with everyone on the call.
  • Radio
    If the idea of running your own radio station appeals, but you don’t want to go through the processes involved in setting up an FM station, consider broadcasting over the Internet. Radio.co offers this service as well as providing a handy guide to get started. AirtimePro also has a guide for beginners. Or you can try setting up a podcast by following this guide by PodcastAdvice. Or if you don’t fancy doing it yourself you can get involved in one of the community stations already available. Check out Gaga Radio, for example!

Some blogs we found useful

  • A Guide to keeping in touch when you can’t meet face to face (including lots of practical tips) from NSUN (National Survivor User Network)
  • 10 tips and tricks for Zoom


Please make sure that you check your security settings and read the relevant data security policy in advance of using any of the above online tools. It is important that you make sure that you aren’t compromising your data security or that of any the group that you are interacting with. We aren’t experts in this area but are happy to help you try and find the relevant document, please just ask if you would like help.

We look forward to chatting with you very soon! Keep a look out on the blog for our upcoming co-production sessions, we will be sharing more information on this very soon.

Get involved in the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research

Email Rory coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’re curious about the Centre. Or:

  • Let us know if you’d like to join in collaborating on our blog! You could tell us a bit about yourself, share learnings from co-production projects, or let us know if you have any other ideas.
  • Send us resources to feature here next month, or tag us on Twitter @UCLCoPro

If you’d like to keep hearing about what we’re up to and what we’re learning at the Centre, feel free to sign up for our newsletter.

Feel free to email Rory at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’d like a PDF or Word copy of this blog.

*Tools that we have found particularly useful for co-producing.

(Cover image. Description: a woman set on a bed with a laptop on her knee and cup of tea in her hand. Image credit: beccatapert.co)

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