Connecting Scottish communities with technology and training

Image shows a Samsung Tablet surrounded by confetti

AbilityNet and the Pulteneytown People’s Project (PPP) are connecting older people by offering tablets, mobile internet access and FREE technology support in Scotland. 

The PPP wanted to combat the social isolation many older people were experiencing particularly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We realized how much we were all using Zoom (video-conferencing,” says PPP’s Julie Cassidy.

“I’d given my Mum my old smartphone so she could call her great-grandchildren and that got me thinking probably there are other people in the same situation, not used to technology could be something that could help to connect them with the outside world,” she adds. 

Having secured funding PPP was able to buy 10 Samsung tablets, and MiFi (mobile WiFi) devices to send out to people in the community. However, Julie was keen to secure support to help recipients get started with the tech. “We rang AbilityNet and it put us in touch with one of your volunteers Jamie who agreed to help us set up the tablets for us, and it has been an absolute Godsend,” she says. 

Support from an AbilityNet volunteer

AbilityNet’s volunteer Jamie Robson has gone above and beyond to support recipients of tablets from PPP. 

Having collected the tablets in June, Jamie configured them to work with the MiFi devices out-of-the-box. “I set up the devices and configured them to be as straightforward as possible,” explained Jamie.

“That included removing some apps people are less likely to use and installing others that would be more useful such as videoconferencing apps and a few games to relieve any boredom. I also preloaded them all with TeamViewer so we could provide remote support if necessary,” he added. 

Tablet starter guide to empower users

James also wrote a 26-page starter guide from scratch, which has gone out with all the tablets. “I thought it's one thing to give somebody a device, and to offer them coaching but people love having things written down. Whenever I'm with a client and I'm showing them something they're always furiously taking notes to refer to so that they can do things on their own, later,” said Jamie.

“The trick was to approach that from the perspective of somebody who had never used a device before, you know, even then to explaining what a tablet is, and how to switch it on and how to switch it off when to charge it, how to charge it,” he added.

To date six of the ten tablets are in the community. PPP also hopes to use one of them to enable some of their Knit and Natter group to connect via Zoom.

How AbilityNet can Help

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm on 0800 269 545
  • We have a range of factsheets that talk in detail about technology that might help you, which you can download for free. You may find our factsheets about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.
  • My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.