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Scheme will offer elderly free Wi-Fi
A SCHEME designed to offer the elderly free access to Wi-Fi and technology to tackle the growing issue of isolation in Royal Wootton Bassett has received a £4,500 headstart.
The post office was awarded the sum from the Community Enterprise Fund, a pot created by the Post Office and Department for Communities and Local Government, to buy a dozen tablets and form an internet club for pensioners in a bid to teach them basic IT skills and help fight loneliness in the town.
Under the initiative, elderly residents will be taught how to shop online, use Skype or many other interactive websites and be shown what a helpful resource the web can be.
The group is expected to launch in the New Year.
The project is the brainchild of Royal Wootton Bassett post office co-owner Rita Patel.
Having spoken on many occasions with her retired customers about their need for companionship and wish to learn more about technology, an internet club seemed like the perfect way to offer them both in one place.
“We have a lot of elderly customers who have said they want to learn how to use a computer but are not confident enough to do it on their own,” said Rita, 47. “With the iPads they will learn how to use the Internet and maybe go on Skype and interact with their families or relatives abroad.
“Some of them are lonely and isolated. They want somebody they can talk to. With the club they can learn about computers and meet friends.
“The idea was to empower them and give them something to do. Some of the people I speak to are so isolated they don’t talk to anyone for days on end. My heart goes out to them.”
She enlisted the help of Wiltshire Council and just two months later the funding was hers.
“I was quite surprised,” she added. “I didn’t think it would get far. There is nothing like this around and people are quite looking forward to it. We already have 10 people signed up and a couple of people interested in volunteering and serving teas and coffees.
“We need to find a venue, get a good deal on some iPads and find volunteers and people to teach IT skills.
“There is a lot to do.”
Rita’s community project was one of just 25 to be approved for funding. A total of 100 schemes had been put forward in July by branches across England. To join the internet club or to volunteer call Rita on 01793 852205.
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