Homelands Trust - Fife
Charity registered in Scotland SC047615
- Award: £823.7 via Call 1
Working closely with the local Health Promotions and rehab centre to encourage and support to research beneficiaries conditions via trusted websites. Using an issue which is relevant and important will motivate people to get online. The elements of safety will be at the forefront of the coaching and training due to the types of websites that will be being highlighted.
Classes took place in the Paxton Centre, a drop-in / therapy centre within the grounds of Homelands. We purchased a laptop, printer/ scanner/ copier and iPad computer. From this we were able to help participants to research their conditions, search the internet, use a tablet, send and receive emails, download apps, and use Facebook and Twitter.
We worked with people affected by a long term health condition, including mental health issues and also invited older members of the local community to join in. We offered access to assistive technology and specialist support equipment, although this was not required by anyone attending.
In the earlier stages of the project, internet access within the Paxton Centre was variable to say the least, and diabolical on occasion. However, Homelands has now upgraded to Superfast broadband, particularly as the main office was badly affected on Mondays when the class was running. This has resolved the problem.
Initially, there was only 1 volunteer course leader but a 2nd came on board fairly quickly. By the 2nd course, a 3rd volunteer joined but, unfortunately, she did not stay long as she found paid employment.
The first block of 6 weeks saw 5 ‘surfers’ sign up for the class. As word spread, there were 7 people taking part in the second course, most of them from the local bowling club next door. By the third block there were 9 participants, with a few of those having taken part in earlier blocks. The classes have continued beyond the life of the project, with 5 regulars turning up every Monday.
The participants basically chose what they would like to learn. We provided them with one-to-one support/ coaching to help them explore a range of uses for using Information Technology e.g. social media, downloading apps, email, ‘Googling’ for information pertaining to their own health condition or disability. We were able to signpost them to other health and disability organisations although the majority had their own particular interests that they chose to follow.
People discussed their own interests with others during the course and invited others to join them in community classes. This was a positive unintended outcome of the course. No one required any form of assistive technology, although we do have a computer with Dragon software available.
Several participants reported in the evaluation to being isolated at home. One participant, who is a power chair user, has learned to contact her family and friends using Facetime on her iPad. She can also keep up with them on Facebook. She has had a Facebook page for some time, set up by her primary carer, but never bothered to learn to use it. She now sees the benefit of having access to the outside world through her iPad, which lay unused for a couple of years.
“It’s fantastic. I can now keep track of my nephews and nieces and their children. One lives in the west of Scotland and the other two are down south. I didn’t often get to see them before as I can’t visit but I’m now watching my seven great nieces and nephews grow up”.
With the support from the class she is now in regular touch with her family. She also reported in the evaluation that she enjoyed meeting the others in the class and the help she received from the staff.
One of our volunteers, who has a mild learning disability, took part in the last block of classes. He would really like to have a tablet at home to continue with his learning. Hopefully, we will be able to assist him with acquiring funding for this and can suggest a referral to LEAD for extra individual tuition, should he wish to pursue this.
The outcomes for the project were:
• Better health
• Reduced isolation
• Less reliance on NHS Health and Social Care
• Improved confidence
• Improved independence
• Increased work/training for work skills
• Reduced stress
• Better communication
Unexpected outcomes from the course were as follows:
• An increase in the number of volunteers delivering the class - it went from 1 - 3, although 1 has now left as she has found paid employment.
• People discussing their own interests with others during the course and inviting others to join them in community classes.
• Sharing skills and information amongst participants.
• Ongoing friendships have developed outwith the class, giving participants increased opportunities for social interaction and reducing isolation and loneliness.
• Having a laugh was one of the highlights of the course. There was much humour every week. “Laughter is the best medicine”, as they say.
• Helping each other during class.
• “I can help you with that. I learned it last week” was often heard.
• Participants were also good at encouraging each other to have lunch in the Paxton Centre ‘Forth View’ cafe after the class, giving further opportunities for interaction.
Overall the project was a great success, although it did not meet all the initial outcomes. It took some time for the news to spread but once the word was out, the number of participants grew.
From the evaluations which were returned here are few quotes from participants:
“I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group”.
“I enjoyed the informality”.
“I enjoyed learning - and the kind, knowable (knowledgeable) ladies”.