The new website address is https://50pd.uk
Community Digital Drop-in Bloggers
Older people using digital inclusion to challenge isolation and loneliness in our community
The new website address is https://50pd.uk
Our last session was 2 March. The 9 March drop-in was suspended. Today (16 March) we felt that it was unsafe even for a podcast session with only six people in the room — so that had to be cancelled too.
We cannot tell you when we will be open again.
The whole point and purpose of the drop-in project is real-world social inclusion — not the social distancing of the virtual world. But now we have to consider the really serious effects of COVID-19 social distancing.
So we are fast-forwarding existing plans to offer an online drop-in and online learning to older people who are isolated at home. That might be all of us soon.
Many of you already have the basic resource — a GSuite account. More than 100 people have email accounts at seniors.org.uk, bold.org.uk, szs.net or agewell.org.uk. Those are all GSuite accounts, and they all provide immediate access to an online meeting room app named Meet. We could add about 450 more, and it’s all free for us.
If you have a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or a desktop computer that is not too old — and an Internet connection at home, you should be able to use GSuite Meet. We expect that many of you will need help while you are using it, so we will recruit volunteers to join the sessions.
The online drop-ins will be group events, not conversations between 2 people — so you can expect to see familiar faces and hear familiar voices.
We still have many details to work out, and we still don’t know how we can include digital beginners and people with no Internet at home.
Everybody with one of the GSuite accounts has already received a link to the first experimental online drop-in. We are still testing it, so nothing much will happen for a few days. The information you need will be in your email and messages soon.
After the 2 March session, we suspended the weekly drop-in because Internet access had stopped — but we were expecting to return quite soon.
On the next day, it was obvious that Internet access had become irrelevant. We can’t restore the normal drop-in until the COVID-19 crisis is over.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything — but we would have to make substantial changes to ensure your safety. Here are some of the ideas and principles we are working on …
It could be a very long time before we can get back to how it was last week. But what do you think we could do next week, next month, or the remainder of the year? If you are a regular drop-in user, you probably know how to contact us quickly. The details are also on our Information page.
The Vodaphone contract has ended. Centre management are unable to renew it.
We are using a portable wireless router with an upmarket 4G data plan. This is working quite well in the Meeting Room — but it won’t work at all for the desktop computers in the IT Room. Good, but not good enough.
We have a solution that will restore improved Internet access to the centre. We have put this totally-workable plan to centre management — and we will tell everybody else when we have their response.
Our new laptops are Chromebooks, providing very safe and very fast access to the Internet. So far, people using them have logged in as Guests.
But we can offer you a better way to use our laptops. A User login would allow you to personalise your Chromebook experience and save your workspace, so next time you log in (from any computer), you can carry on where you left off.
If you have an email address at Gmail, seniors.org.uk or bold.org.uk, you are ready to be a User now. If you have an email address somewhere else, we can give you a free G Suite account at either seniors.org.uk (if you are retired) or bold.org.uk (if you are still in the job market). Or, if you prefer, you could just create your own standard Gmail account. Either of those options would allow you to add yourself to our Chromebooks as a User.
So the workshop on Wednesday morning, 29 August, will be about claiming a G Suite account, adding yourself as a User to our laptops, understanding how everything works, and maybe exploring G Suite features. It’s really very easy. The workshop will be short: 10 am to 11 am. Of course, afterwards you may continue using the laptops until 1pm.
Escape from the IT Room
We are finally out of the tiny IT Room that has space for only 8 people. We have expanded into the much larger Community Room with 9 new laptops, and space for you, your laptop, and 20 other people.
So on Wednesday mornings, the Community Room is the 50+ Laptop Café (the name we used at The Lawns computer centre and Piccadilly Community Centre). That’s in addition to the large Meeting Room that we have been using for about 2 years. Now we can accommodate about 40 people in two large spaces. connected by the garden and the kitchen.
The new laptops are all Chromebooks — very fast, very safe and very easy — giving us instant access to the Internet — and exactly what we need to resume workshops and short courses.
We had more than 50 people at Whitmore Community Centre — easily the largest attendance ever.
But we managed, thanks to the help of our regular volunteers, plus corporate volunteers Coralie, Lerica and Mia from Aecom, and John from Carey Group — all via Benefacto.
We have switched the drop-in sessions from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon
Nothing else has changed. We will still be at Whitmore Community Centre, filling both large spaces.