Positively Connected - The New Beneficiary MeetUp Group

Positively Connected is an online group set up by the Thalidomide Trust and run by beneficiary volunteers. Its objective is to encourage beneficiaries to connect with each other by joining in with a range of events and activities.  All beneficiaries and Trust staff are welcome.

Here’s the story of how it all began and how to join in.

You can also access our Easy Read document explaining what Positively Connected is all about.

Thalidomide Trust positively connected online meet up service

What is it all about?

Zoom coffee breakTrust beneficiaries are dotted across Britain and further afield so it is a much anticipated affair when there is an opportunity to get together. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has restricted many areas of our lives since March 2020 and halted gatherings throughout the world. As a result we have all battened down the hatches to get through this challenging period but have managed to utilize different ways of connecting.

Back in April, beneficiary volunteers started up a series of Virtual Coffee Breaks online. They continue to take place at various times during the day proving a popular way for beneficiaries to connect throughout the lockdowns and whilst living under social distancing measures.  Coffee events allowed people who were unable to meet during the year to chat and re-acquaint with old friends. In addition, for newer beneficiaries they offered a chance to meet others in the community and form new friendships.

How Virtual Coffee Breaks Evolved…

During these enjoyable coffee chats people often share what they have been up to whilst passing their time at home (and garden!).

It became apparent that there are many unique and interesting hobbies and activities beneficiaries enjoy, alongside sharing interests. These include scuba diving, dog training, craft activities, quilting, and card making alongside many more activities. Beneficiaries connected with each other via shared interests. This gave the opportunity to listen to others’ perspectives and learn from different knowledge bases.

One beneficiary shares her experience here.

With all this in mind the beneficiary MeetUp group Positively Connected was conceived.

“The Coffee Breaks have been one of the few positive things to come from the current emergency. Living by myself and only becoming part of the Trust family in late 2018 our recent gatherings have opened new doors for me. For the first time in my 60 years I have met women, in our all-female group, who have experienced similar things to me during their lives. Things that most non-disabled people know nothing about or understand. I just didn’t realise how emotional, yet supportive, this could be. It’s really good to be part of such a welcoming, inspiring and lively group of women.”

MeetUp is an online platform used by groups to publish a diary of events. Members of the group can then choose what they wish to participate in.  The Trust and beneficiary volunteers set up a private beneficiary group called Positively Connected. The group runs a rich programme of events every week to engage with the thalidomide community. Each session is hosted by a volunteer beneficiary, offering a wide range of interest groups as well as the sociable virtual coffee events.

Take a look at some of the Positively Connected events on offer

Beneficiary Book Club

A book or books are chosen by the group to read and then discussed 6/8 weeks later. You can join at any time to get involved. Be sure to bring along your own suggestions for the next book club book!

Reading IconBooks read so far have included:-

The History of Bees : Maja Lunde

Becoming : Michelle Obama

Lights Out Liverpool : Maureen Lee

The Choice – Embrace the possible : Dr Edith Eger

My Brilliant Friend : Elena Ferrante

Book club takes place on a Thursday evening at 19:30.

Creative Hub Sessions

Painting iconAn inclusive, non-judgemental space allowing beneficiaries to come together to share their current creative project and to get ideas from others.

There is a wealth of knowledge within the beneficiary community. This includes woodwork, lace-making, painting, papercraft, card making, embroidery and much more.

You can talk about how your chosen project is going and troubleshoot any hurdles. Alongside this you can inspire others to try out new projects.

Indian Cookery

perfect mediterranean dietAuthentic Indian cookery recipes shared by one of the beneficiary volunteers. This session is interactive enabling a cook-along real time or the ability to join and observe to cook at a later date.

The beneficiary volunteer talks you through the method and ingredients while her PA cooks so you can see what yours should look like… Great fun!

Interactive Stretch Sessions

Gentle exercise sessions focused on stretching led by a volunteer beneficiary with specific knowledge of the everyday demands experienced by those with Thalidomide Embryopathy.

Specific sessions for upper body, legs and necks. These took place twice weekly during lockdown and you can still access these sessions.  Live sessions will take place once a month in 2021.

Football iconFootball Focus

A lively discussion group of football banter and amicable rivalry takes place fortnightly for a half hour.

Weight Loss Support Group

Join this online session of mutual support, sharing tips and advice that can help you move towards your weight loss goals.

Health Forums – Men’s Health, Smoking, Healthy Eating

Hosted by a beneficiary volunteer, these sessions are presented by one of the Trust’s Medical Advisors.

Each session is packed full of up to date advice and help for beneficiaries. There’s also time for a question and answer section.


Bingo iconMonthly Quiz  – A light-hearted, fun opportunity to get together online for quiz rounds from an enormous selection of topics…. Some more challenging than others! Come and join the frivolity.

Bingo! – Topical Bingo call cards alongside the more traditional 1-90 game. Download your card at home and print, mark up online or we can send you a playing card. (Please allow a few days to process!)

All Positively Connected MeetUp events are currently taking place online, via Zoom, an online video meeting facility.

Want to get involved in Positively Connected?

Setting up

You can join the private beneficiary MeetUp group Positively Connected here

You will be asked to set up an account, either by using your Facebook sign in details or you can use your email and create a new password.

Next, send your request to Positively Connected to join the group. We don’t allow open access as this group is solely for Trust beneficiaries and Trust Staff.

Once we have confirmed it is you, your request will be accepted. After that you will have access to all the Positively Connected events.

Select the events you wish to join by clicking the 'attend' button. You will then get the Zoom link so that you can attend the event.

Using Zoom

If you haven’t used Zoom before, we can help! We’ll help with the set-up and facilitate a one to one trial video call to give you the opportunity to see how to join a meeting and get involved. Before your first event the beneficiary host will be made aware that this is your first event. They will be there to welcome you and enable everyone to introduce themselves at the beginning.

Do you have a skill to share?

Positively Connected is growing all the time with more events offered to beneficiaries. If you have a skill you would like to share or a forum you would like to be involved in please get in touch with Annabelle Blackham at the Trust on 01480 474074 or email.

Need more information?

If you have any questions about Positively Connected, joining MeetUp, ideas for events or think you would like to host an event yourself, please contact Annabelle Blackham, the Trust’s Volunteer Coordinator on 01480 474074 or email.

Become a volunteer

volunteer needed

How to volunteer for the Trust