Support for community-based tablets and technology

Image shows a blackboard with outline figures in a variety of chalk colours. The people's hands are linked. Text above reads 'Together'.AbilityNet’s volunteers are supporting a tablet roll-out into communities through collaboration in West Yorkshire. 

Aspire Creating Communities provides support to people over 55 near Huddersfield. The company is the brainchild of CEO Susanna Shotter, a trained Occupational Therapist with a focus on mental health. 

“I lead the charity with an OT, framework, overarching ethos,” she says.

The charity works with various community groups and provides a range of services, including running tutorials around working with clay, local history and storytelling, and exploring topics such as fire safety. 

It is working with around 200 individuals.

Tackling social isolation through technology

In response to Covid-19, the charity adapted its model, sending out around 150 crafting bags within the local community. 

It also recognized that many would feel increasingly isolated. 

“My family and my staff can use zoom really easily. We can access the internet, we can order things online, but for more and more people experiencing isolation, the need for technology was increasing and the need for understanding how to use that technology,” said Susanna. 


Aspire Creating Communities went to the council and secured funding to deliver over-50 tablets to digitally excluded people in Yorkshire. 

“We just rolled with it and just said, ‘let's have a go’; let's not spend months trying to research it. Let's get stuck in and do something and call it a pilot project and, and have a go at it,” said Susanna. 

Susanna contacted AbilityNet to see if we could offer community support. 

“The collaboration with AbilityNet makes it a much more sustainable project because we were starting to find that it was going to be really challenging to staff the support to monitor the usage of the tablets,” she said.

Our volunteers are checking in on tablet recipients and running them through a mini questionnaire to see how they’re progressing and identifying those who need 1-2-1 support using or adapting their devices.

Susanna recognises people need support adapting their tech. “I’ve already put my ‘OT hat’ on a few times. I've got a lady with quite severe arthritis, and I tracked her down on a Bluetooth keyboard. That was quite cool,” she said.

For support with technology call our FREE helpline 0800 048 7642

6 ways we’re supporting technology in the community in partnership

AbilityNet offers FREE support to several community projects, which have provided hardware into various communities. 

1. Support with mental health

We’ve worked with NHS providers and a former Tech4Good winner to provide support with remote access to specialist mental health services. 

2. Helping to reduce isolation

Our volunteers supported a roll-out of KOMP video-conferencing devices to help reduce social isolation among older people.

3. Supporting BAME communities in Basildon

Our volunteers helped configure and set up a series of tablets for underprivileged children from the BAME community in Basildon.

4. Providing a digital lifeline

We’re part of a wider Digital Lifeline initiative designed to get technology out to people with learning disabilities who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. 

5. Collaborating with Age UK

Local branches of Age UK are reaching out into the community to offer support to people struggling to use their technology. We’ve teamed up with the Wiltshire branch to provide extra support. 

6. Offering remote support

Like many organisations, we’ve had to adapt to Covid-19 and are now providing remote support to individuals who are increasingly reliant on technology as a means of keeping in touch. 

  • If you’ve secured funding and need help supporting recipients in the community, email us at enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk.
  • We’re also open to conversations regarding joint bid submissions to provide technology and support with technology to create a digital world accessible to all.
  • Onboarding our volunteers and managing them does incur a cost, and so if you can, please Donate and help maintain our vital services.  

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