What strange times we are in with the virus and resulting lock-down.   A Professor Karol Sikora, ex-director of the WHO Cancer Programme gave an interview on the internet and said that he learnt about the “R” number as an undergraduate and hadn’t really thought about it since,  but that now, his grandchildren know what it is and are talking about it.  I’m assuming of course that everybody knows the dreaded “R” number and what it means.   My waffling introduction is basically because times have changed in just a few short months and, regretfully, we are no longer allowed to offer evening meetings.

Enter Graham Shavick, who offered to run evening meetings using Zoom.  We had our April and May meetings via Zoom and although it’s all a bit new to all of us, they’ve been well received, with some people really pleasantly surprised that we are running any meetings at all!   All of this was possible thanks to Graham, who’s mission was to boldly go where others fear to tread, (have I mixed my metaphors?).

Anyway, Graham also offered, after persuasion, (involving a pair of pliers and a soldering iron), to run a workshop on using Zoom.  So what is Zoom?.   To be honest, when Graham first mentioned Zoom I thought it was an ice lolly, but no, it’s a means whereby you can communicate, via a computer, with one or more other people to hold a 1:1 meeting or even to hold a conference.  Graham went into the nuts and bolts of purchasing Zoom, which you only need to do if you are hosting a meeting, (rather than just joining a meeting, when all you do is click on a link sent by the host).   Even if hosting a meeting,  the basic version is free which is probably good enough if you are just doing 1:1 or short, (40 minute) meetings.  The only issue is that you need an internet connection.

Graham also went in to how you set up a meeting and some of the features available, such as muting everyone except the speaker, unmuting people, how people can type in questions and so forth.

Graham also covered important issues about running a counselling session on Zoom, for example, issues about the room in which you conduct the meeting, (what’s in the background etc.), how far should you be away from the camera, (how much do you fill the screen).  Issues such as noise, (dogs barking, the doorbell etc.), were also covered as were issues around general lighting.

Another important issue covered was the client and their ability to talk without being overhead, etc – basically, ensuring that,  (as far as you can determine), they are in a safe,  confidential setting. We had a breakout discussion in a small group to consider these issues with colleagues.

Graham also considered the issue of internet security.  Of course, with any internet platform hackling is a possibility,  but then if somebody can hack into the CID or whatever I suppose anything is possible.  However,   Zoom is one of the safest platforms to use and so confidentiality should not be an issue.

Overall, it was an interesting and informative meeting which, going by the feedback received, was very well informed.

John Warren