AbilityNet goes the extra miles to help people during lockdown

In this time of physical distancing, technology has become an essential lifeline, especially for older people. They are more likely to be lonely and isolated- and to need extra help to use their technology*. 

Technology can help people to gain or regain their independence by allowing them to shop or bank online when they are unable to do so in person. It can prevent isolation, as the internet can connect people to family and friends.

AbilityNet believes in a digital world accessible to all. We have a network of 300+ volunteers across the UK that support older people and disabled people with their technology, helping them to gain IT (information technology) know-how and achieve their digital goals. Although we’ve temporarily suspended our in-person home visit volunteer services, our volunteers are still able to help through phone calls, email and other communication methods.

Helping clients with technology during the lockdown

During this time of COVID-19, volunteers have been going to extra mile to support our clients, notably 70-year-old Janette from King Edward in Banff.

Janette contacted us when her laptop lost power, and she was unable to access essential services, including shopping. She rang our FREE Advice and Information Helpline (0800 269 545), and we redirected her call to our County Co-ordinator for Scotland, Chris Grant. 

Determined to get Janette back online, AbilityNet volunteer Chris Grant contacted Everest Technology in Aberdeen. The firm confirmed it had the accessory in stock, but the challenge was getting it to Janette who lives 45 miles from Aberdeen. 

Chris put in a call to AbilityNet volunteer Jeanette Bradley who suggested contacting North East Rides Volunteers Service (NERVS). NERVS is a not-for-profit charitable organisation founded to help the NHS by providing a free motorbike courier service. NERVS collected the adaptor and drove it from Aberdeen to our client Janette’s home.

Photo of NERVs volunteers with their bikes

Photo credit: nervs.org.uk

AbilityNet County Co-ordinator Chris Grant said it was a challenge that required some creative thinking:

“When the call came in, we had to think completely out of the box. Janette was in desperate need for the technology. I called Jeanette Bradley who suggested getting in touch with Everest and making the call to NERVS to pick it up and deliver it to Janette. I’m very grateful to the team at NERVS for their assistance especially Ross Bradley.”

Chris and our team of volunteers will continue to support Janette with her technology, but there’s also a level of general care involved, and upon finding Janette has been spending an excessive amount getting taxis to deliver groceries he spoke with Grampian Assistant Hub via Aberdeenshire Council. The latter are now arranging food to be delivered. Janette is grateful for the help she has received:

“Getting back on the PC was vital to me, especially as I live so far out in a remote area. I was paying £50 for a taxi to bring me food,” she said. 

We know this is just one example of the many ways charities, organisations and individuals are making a difference during these difficult times.

Please know we are here to help if you or someone you know could benefit from support with their technology to stay active and connected through this crisis and beyond.

*More lonely, more isolated

Recent figures show that there are at least 13.9 million disabled people in the UK. Even before the Coronavirus emergency, they were much more likely to feel the effects of social isolation. In a recent survey by Scope:

  • Half of disabled people of working age said they “always or often feel lonely.”
  • 1.2 million older people said they felt “chronically lonely.”
  • 45% of pension age adults are lonely.

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