Computers 4 Carers
Dec 3

‘New lease of life’ as charity app keeps lonely people connected

A SPECIALLY designed app is helping socially isolated and lonely older people in Doncaster stay connected.

Tap Into was created by North Yorkshire app developers Catalyst especially aimed at older people with no or little digital experience. It allows users to stay in touch with their friends and families, receive reminders and prompts from carers and support services, and it also helps to build digital skills.

The app, which is funded by Doncaster Council, has been developed as part of the Doncaster Community Agents scheme, which sees charities Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) and the People Focused Group (PFG) support, isolated and vulnerable people. The scheme also provides fully-funded iPads and Internet usage.

Project coordinator Wayne Munro-Smith said: "The beauty of this app is that older people can receive messages, photos and videos all in one place, without the need to open email, photo or video streaming software and thereby keeping in touch with their friends, family and the outside world.

"Christmas can be a lonely and upsetting time of year when you don't have friends or family nearby. With the app, you don't need to be a computer wizard to use it, and you can still receive pictures and messages from people over the festive period. Hopefully, working with a small group of older people in Doncaster, we can demonstrate the effectiveness of this new tool in fighting the rising rates of loneliness and social isolation all around us.."

Jan Milner, the community agent for Intake, where PFG is based, said the iPads had proved really popular and given a "new lease of life" to people involved in the project.

She added: "Tap Into adds a new dimension to the ways in which RAY and PFG are working together to help people. Some of our clients are showing early signs of dementia or have recently been diagnosed, and through this app we can now send reminders for meetings, appointments and events."

So far ten older people have taken part in a trial using the app, but the charities are appealing for any old or unwanted iPads to be donationed to the project. To donate, call RAY on 0845 313 0270.

Find out more Here

Nov 22

New carers' charity Dorset Computers4Carers

A new charity, Dorset Computers4Carers, which utilises technology to reconnect isolated carers with society, is on the hunt for donations.

Dorset Computers4Carers is asking individuals, companies and organisations which are considering replacing their laptops and tablets to consider donating them to the charity.

The charity is specifically looking for laptops which are not more than five years old and are installed with Windows 7.

The hard drives will be replaced before they will be given to a carer who will be trained to use it.

The charity, which is working in partnership with Dorset County Council through the Dorset Carers Support Project Fund, is trying to raise funds through local events and is welcoming donations to go towards software and training costs.

To donate funds or computer equipment, contact Anne or Christine Edwards on 07931 804999, e-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Oct 14

Argos Offer

What is the offer?

To support people with low or no digital skills, and to help them get online at home, Argos have made 10,000 low cost tablets available – and they think your learners might be interested in getting their hands on one. In order to qualify for one of these tablets, learners will need to take part in a 90 minute tablet training session which will cost them £20. At the end of the session, learners will be able to keep the tablet that they have learnt on, and will also be eligible for one year's free broadband from TalkTalk.

How do I book my learners onto a session?

You can either book learners onto a session by calling 0345 600 4408 between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday, or by visiting the easy online booking site (Centres can get a username and password from their Network Coordinator).

You will be given a list of participating stores near you, and the times of the workshops, and will then be able to make a booking.

You will be given a booking reference when completing the booking, so it's worth making a note of this in case you need it later,

What is the tablet?

The tablet is an entry level tablet – a 7 inch Proscan tablet. It is not sold by any other retailers in the UK, but is sold by Walmart and Best Buy in the US. The tablet uses the Android operating system, and comes preloaded with some help videos.

What do the learning sessions cover?

The learning sessions will cover how to switch on the tablet and how to connect to the internet, as well as searching, emailing, social media and shopping. The session is only 90 minutes long, so training will not be in depth but learners will get a taste of each.

Why are Argos running learning sessions when this is what we're doing?

Argos are keen to ensure the tablets go to people who really need them, and so they are using the training sessions as a way of qualifying that the tablets go to those most in need.

The training offered by Argos should be seen as complementary to what you offer in your centre, and a great way of getting a very low cost tablet for people who would struggle to afford to get online at home.

Argos aren't trying to compete with what you're offering in your centre, and know that they won't be able to support someone to use the internet in 90 minutes.

I have been told my learners are ineligible!

If you learners answer that they have all five digital skills (sending and receiving emails, using a search engine, browsing, completing online forms, and buying and selling online), then they won't be eligible for this offer. If your learners say they are not confident with one or more of these skills, then they will be eligible for the offer.

I have been told I need an Argos card to book on to the session?

You will not need an Argos card to book onto the session – the session is open to everyone with basic online skills whether they are an Argos customer or not.

How do learners get the free broadband from TalkTalk?

When attending the learning session, attendees will be given more information about accessing the free broadband from TalkTalk. Please note, broadband will be free for 12 months with no obligation to continue after this period, but individuals will still have to pay line rental.

All the sessions are being held in the evenings so my learners can't attend.

Argos are doing their best to run a range of sessions during both the day and evening, but some stores aren't able to host sessions during hours the store is open. We have fed back to Argos that day time sessions work best for many learners, so hopefully more daytime sessions will open up soon.

There aren't any sessions near me!

Argos have selected 120 stores across the UK that meet a range of criteria; having good WiFi, staff that can deliver the training, and a training area or room to train people. We know there are gaps in geographical coverage, and some of you aren't able to access the training as there aren't any sessions near you. We are hoping Argos will expand the list of stores taking part in the programme over the coming months.

Why are Argos supporting this agenda?

Argos are a founder partner of Go ON UK, the UK's national digital skills alliance, are are hoping this programme will help to reach the final 20% of the UK without basic online skills.

Aug 17

Pc Tablets for carers in Norwich

pc tablet for carers in Norwich

June 2014 Comic Relief donated £1000 to buy unpaid family Carers based in Norwich Norfolk a Pc Tablet.

This has been a great help for many people.

Aug 17

Digital Hero 2010

 Wendy Maxwell digital hero

Wendy is the East Anglia Digital Heroes winner, 2010. She works for the charity, Chill4us ( ), on a project that aims to get carers online and in touch with each other. Wendy campaigns for free laptops for carers, and has so far given out more than 100 computers. We took a few minute’s of Wendy’s time to find out how she started Chill4us and what it means for the charity to be a Digital Heroes winner.

How did it feel to be a 2010 Digital Heroes winner?

“The members and I were very excited. It gave us great thrill but most of all it gave us hope that we will survive. We thought we would have to discontinue the website.”

Can you give some examples of how and where Chill4us helps people?

“We have a 24 hour forum and a chat room where the members can post messages at any time or chat when they are feeling a bit sad and give support and friendship to one another. We also have an archive with games. Chill4us ( ) is a private website and the carers seem to appreciate that. They discuss personal issues that are close to their heart and they don’t want other people to see it.”

Who came up with the idea for the project?

“It was my son Ross who set it up for us and we are so grateful for what he did. I had the idea to call the project Chill4Us – it just came to me and seemed like a great idea. Ross also helped us set up the ‘Computer 4 Carers’ website ( ) 2 years ago. I realised that carers are often isolated and that they need computers to communicate with other people, so that’s how it all started.”

What inspires and/or influences your work at Chill4us?

“It is the openness of their hearts and the support that they give to one another. The members say that it feels like having an online family where they can reach out to and share experiences with like-minded people. On our website, we’ve been doing hosted chats with MPs and charities. The members directed one for us last week and it was nice to see that the carers really supported one another. It is very important to us to find people who need this support and give them access to it.”

What has been the greatest challenge getting your ideas to realisation?

“We started the ‘Computer 4 Carers’ project in 2002 and then in 2005 we set up Chill4us. (6th August is going to be the birthday of Chill4us.) The main challenges were getting us acknowledged and letting the carers know that we were there for them. Our other big challenge was securing finances.”

What did you do with the £5,000 prize money?

“We decided to spend some money on laptops and then keep the rest, so that Chill4us is financially secured for a few years. We rely on people donating their old computers and laptops to us, but now, because of the cut backs, we’re not getting many. We hope that people will realise how important laptops are to carers.”

Where did you learn about the internet? Do you have any tips for people looking to start a digital project similar to yours to help their local communities?

“I’ve learned about how to use the computer and the internet in my community library. My son showed me about the internet and then I thought, ‘well, I’m going to go to the library and see if I like it’ and I realised I did like it. Soon after, I bought my own laptop. People are very welcome to get in touch with me any time if they want any tips or advice.”

How people can get involved with your project and donate?

“You can visit our website where you can learn more about us, how to get in touch, what we do and also click on ‘donate’ button. If you want to help us with Computers 4 Carers, the details are on .”

How many carers did you manage to get online?

 “We’ve helped enable 120 carers to get on computers so far and there are 650 members on Chill4us forum ( ). We’re also active on Twitter (!/Chill4usCarers ) and Facebook ( .”

Do you have any nice response from the carers that you’d like to share with us?

“Most of them like to stay in touch with us. In particular, one lady was so grateful because we helped her to get in touch with her son. He lives away from home and she is now able to chat with him on Skype.”

What do you think carers miss out on in the online world?

“Carers are very isolated and they don’t get much money (they only get £54 a week carer’s allowance) so many of them cannot afford to buy a computer. You become a carer in an instant and when it happens to you, you find yourself in a difficult situation. You’ve got someone to look after who is sick, you’ve got to find out where to get help and where to get medicine - you can feel stuck. In this situation, having access to the internet means a lot.

“I’d like to give a special thank you to my son Ross and our friend Derek. I couldn’t be doing this without their help and support.”

You can read more here