Get connected project
Safer and Supportive Salisbury used an initial £3,300 grant from Wiltshire Community Foundation to launch a pilot project of the Get Connected Project in the summer of 2020. The project helped ten older households to access the internet by loaning them a tablet with internet and providing socially distanced personal support to help them get online.
A further £7,600 grant from the Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund is now enabling SaSS to extend the scheme to dozens more people and there are plans to provide a weekly coffee and computer café to stay in touch with learners. There are plans to offer this service to the wider community, as well as providing sessions for specific groups. The grant will be used to buy more tablets and for volunteer trainers’ expenses.
Steering Group member and project leader Jane Ebel, who ran the trial, confirms that several people have already signed up for the new project. SaSS also wants to reach other people who might not have heard about it yet: such as homeless, unemployed, people living with disabilities, residents of the city’s women’s refuge or other single parent families.
The pilot has been fantastic, connecting people who have not been connected before. People have been able to video call with relatives that they haven’t seen for six months, others have been emailing for the first time and have been able to follow virtual church services and other activities.
With pandemic public health restrictions, many services are only available online, so people who are not computer literate are missing out. People who need regular access to health services are frustrated because phones are not staffed and they cannot sort out their urgent issues. With this second wave of Covid, there are fewer active hubs and volunteers available in the community, so it is likely that the winter will be harder to endure than the first wave in the spring.
SaSS is working closely with Wessex Community Action and other organisations in the County, to link equipment with those who need it most, so:
- if you have found the conditions of lockdown particularly challenging and isolating these last few months,
- if you have always wanted to learn how to use a computer and be able to connect with family and friends,
- have a consultation with your GP,
- order groceries from the safety of your home,
- attend your local church service from your sitting room,
- find out what’s happening in the world, then this project is for you.
You will be loaned a tablet with internet capability for three months and you will be supported with one to one tuition to get you up and running. You will be given an easy to follow user guide to help you get started.
The Get Connected Project is also looking for volunteer tutors who know their way round Android and Apple systems and who have the patience and flexibility to be able to share this knowledge with complete beginners. Please get in touch if you are interested in volunteering, are DBS checked and at ease with laptop, tablet, smart phone formats as well as the usual apps (WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype, online shopping).