Getting Online at 85

The 13th – 19th of October is “Get Online” week! Our Digital Communications Officer Emma Bisset visited a computer club held by Keeping in Touch Edinburgh (KiTE), to find out how the organisation is helping older people overcome their fears of technology and getting them online.


Technology has been part of my life for some time now. I’ve had to use email and the internet for work for years, and I regularly do my banking and shopping online. For many people going online is second nature, so it’s easy to forget that some older people never used a computer during their working lives. As an increasing number of services move to being more focused on their online activities, there is a fear that these people will be left behind.

That’s why organisations like KiTE are so crucial. KiTE work with older people to introduce them to the benefits and fun of being online, and work to alleviate their fear of technology. They offer a structured beginners course, 1-2-1 sessions and a more relaxed computer club. Viewpoint Housing Association provide funding for Old Farm Court Sheltered Housing to host a regular computer club, which residents can attend for free. I went to visit them recently to find out more.

Computer club members ably helped by EleanorI first spoke to a lady in her mid-eighties called May. She had never used a computer while working but is now a regular attendee of the computer club, having had a 1-2-1 session to get over her initial reservations.

She has now signed up to Facebook, which she uses to stay in touch with a friend in Ohio and share information with other older friends who are also members. “My hearing isn’t what it was and I need the telly on really loud, which probably disturbs my neighbours. I got free headphones for the telly from DeafAction which have really helped, so I put on Facebook that they did that so my friends knew as well. It’s great for letting people know your news and what’s going on.” May’s next goal is to learn how to make Christmas cards online so she can personalise and print off cards for everyone this year.

I also spoke to a gentleman called Jimmy who said the club has helped him find his way online. He goes online to plan trips down south. “I got a better deal on train tickets because I checked online so it’s good for that.”

Gina, 75 has found being online helpful for sharing things with her granddaughter. “She’s five and visited one day when it was raining. There wasn’t much to do and she was bored so we went online and watched the live camera of the panda in Edinburgh Zoo. She loved it and it’s something we can do together.”

One lady who was attending the club for the first time still had her reservations and said she found the session rather overwhelming. I noticed how the other members rallied round, reassuring her that they had felt the same on their first visit.

P1000944

There is a real sense of the members being supported as they find their own way, with some members bringing their own laptops and even iPads. Some had clearly built up some confidence, only calling on KiTE volunteers if something unexpected happened, while others sat with a volunteer, being talked through a process.

People of all ages differ in how much they use technology and what they go online for. It’s great to see organisations like KiTE working to tackle the fear some older people have, and explain the benefits of the internet and digital technology to generations that are just discovering them.

One lady approached me at the end of the session to say “I always ask a lot of questions, but these volunteers are worth their weight in gold.” She chatted with the volunteers before packing up her laptop to leave, shouting as she left “Just remember, don’t get old!”001

Visit KiTE’s website to find out more about their work.

 

Leith at War: Memories make History

Last year’s Age Scotland Award winners; Citadel Arts Group are proud to promote their latest inter-generational project. Author Laure C. Patterson tells us more about the project, from the script through to performance week! Thanks too to Director Liz Hare for the pictures and background.

Leith at War Flyer

Yesterday I was in Leith’s Hermitage Court sheltered housing complex with a class of Primary 6 children mixing with residents old enough to be their grandparents. The children were performing scenes from a play based on the living memories of these and other residents. The laughs and tears and shouts of appreciation were for real. Many were mine!

Dress Rehersals

Mark Kydd as Grampa, Angus Skakle as young Eck at Dress Rehersals

As a kid I loved listening to stories. The best were true, told by my dad and my great-aunt, who talked of their adventures in earthquakes, train wrecks and perilous sea journeys. My mum created fairytales full of magic and dreams. Now, in my sixties, I’m listening to stories again: stories of excitement, daring and courage. And they’re all real! They were told to me by Leithers who lived through blitzes, blackouts and bombs in the Second World War, right here on the Leith Home Front.

Pupils from St Mary's Primary and residents of Hermitage Court

Back in March, children from St Mary’s Primary came along to Hermitage Court to enjoy the reading, socialise together and give us their thoughts about the play.

When I joined Citadel Arts Group some years ago I learned a great deal about courage, patience and humour from helping run living memory sessions with Leithers up to 91 years of age. Citadel Arts, with a history of producing community dramas from living memory, kindly offered me the chance to write. So I wrote ‘Leith At War’. Three classes of primary and secondary children have come together to share these stories with their tellers, and one of the pupils stars in ‘Leith At War’. So I was really proud when Age Scotland honoured Citadel last year by voting us Member Group of the Year in a Parliamentary presentation!

Living Memory Group

First read through with our script advisers whose ages ranged from 70s to 90s.l They advised us closely about the events of the play, the way people spoke, details of dress and RAF uniform, to achieve authenticity.

Thank you to all the lovely people who shared their stories with me, to Citadel for taking these stories onto the stage, and to Age Scotland for the great work they do with the older generations who enrich us every day. I hope you can all come and see the play.

 

‘Leith At War’ is being performed in the Leith Hub (foot of Leith Walk) on 19, 20 June at 7.30pm and 21 June at 2pm. Tickets £7/£5. Click on leithatwar@gmail.com to reserve tickets.

 

 

I wish I had joined earlier

We rely on our amazing volunteers to help us run our charity shops across Scotland.  In today’s blog we meet Gema, Liza and Valerie who volunteer in our Morningside shop

“Volunteering at Age Scotland has been an incredible experience. I have had such an amazing time helping out in the shop, from doing different tasks to learning important skills. Volunteering has given me much more confidence in myself and a great feeling of achievement. I’m so grateful to Age Scotland Morningside for giving me the opportunity to be part of their team in supporting a wonderful cause.”, Valerie Duncan:

Valerie

Valerie dressing for success

“I have been volunteering at Age Scotland since the beginning of October 2013. When I started I had just moved to the Edinburgh and didn’t know anyone/didn’t have a job. Volunteering at Age Scotland Morningside was one of the best things I decided to do! I have made great friends and love spending time helping in the shop. Now I have a fulltime job and continue to volunteer on the weekends.” Liza Gaiga.

“I’ve been volunteering at Age Scotland for about a month and I’m so glad to have joined the team. Not only can I donate my time to do something good for others but also I really enjoy being in the shop and visiting with the other volunteers and managers. So I would invite other people to volunteer with Age Scotland. I wish I had joined earlier!”  Gema Romero

Find out more about volunteering opportunities with Age Scotland and the Silver Line Scotland.  If you are interested in volunteer in your local Age Scotland shop, you can just drop by for a friendly chat.

For Information, Friendship and Advice call the Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90

Annette’s Story

Annette has been volunteering at the Age Scotland charity shop in Stockbridge for six years.

Volunteer Week

I began volunteering after my mum passed away I was very low and in need of a reason to get up every day, the shop gave me that reason. I really enjoy the company and the good fun atmosphere in the Stockbridge shop.

We are a team and I feel part of it. I usually help sort and hang up stock and like to see the clothes selling and making money that way I know I’ve made a difference. Initially it took me 2 weeks to pluck up the courage to ask about volunteering and I’m so happy that I did its been a life changer.

Manager Amanda says “I’m very proud to have Volunteers like Annette. She is a key volunteer who helps us in the stockroom she is great at clearing deliveries and is an established part of the team. Im really pleased that after all these years Annette is still volunteering as i know how much of a challenge it was for her to start after the loss of her parents. Without Annette’s help processing stock we would not get lots of great stock out for our customers. ”

Find out more about volunteering opportunities with Age Scotland and the Silver Line Scotland.  If you are interested in volunteer in your local Age Scotland shop, you can just drop by for a friendly chat. Find our Edinburgh shops, follow on Twitter or Like us on Facebook.

For Information, Friendship and Advice call the Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90

 

Let’s Get Digital

Getting the internet to work for you can help make life easier, helping you stay in touch, explore your passions and even simplify and speed up daily tasks. Age Scotland helped EE organise two EE Techy Tea Party events in Glasgow and Edinburgh this year where more than 30 older people came to find out more about technology.

Glasgow group

Glasgow group

The aim of an EE Techy Tea Party is for volunteers from the digital communications company EE to spend around two hours with local people from their community. Guests bring the kit they want to learn more about and EE’s digital champions bring their know how to help them gain the skills to make the most of the technology at their fingertips.

Last year the company held 70 EE Techy Tea Parties across the UK, with 565 digital champions helping to improve the digital skills of nearly 1000 people. An impressive 89 per cent of guests told them they were more likely to use technology in the future.

Edinburgh Group

Edinburgh Group

Age Scotland guests at the events in Glasgow and Edinburgh were brimming with questions about texting, e mail set up, shopping on line, downloading apps and social media.

Catriona Blythe who attended the Glasgow Techy Tea Party said: “I’m looking forward to being be able to use Facebook through my phone more to speak to my son who is abroad.

Here, Madeleine Knowles from EE shares some tips:

  • Stay in touch

Everyone leads such busy lives, so it can be difficult to keep in touch with those you care about.

Email (electronic mail)

Set up your own email account for free at Google mail www.gmail.com or try Hotmail at www.hotmail.co.uk. You can even set up email accounts on your smartphone, so you can retrieve e mails on the move.

  • Social networking

Set up a Facebook account so you can see what your friends and family are up to. www.facebook.com or install the Twitter app on your smartphone to ‘check in’ when you are out and about.

  • Save money and time

There are lots of shopping sites on line, google the ones you like ad grab yourself a bargain. Visit www.amazon.co.uk they have everything from good books, to bedding, or make your first sale on www.ebay.co.uk .

Last minute holiday and entertainment deals can been seen at www.lastminute.com or try www.groupon.com . The Vouchercloud app sees where you are and searches out great local high street deals for you.

Compare prices on a whole range of things including insurance, travel, mobile phones and broadband at www.moneysupermarket.com.

Sort out your travel and check train times at www.nationalrail.co.uk or get discounts when you book online at www.thetrainline.com

Get out and about fuss free with the Google maps app on your smartphone or try the next bus app to find out bus times in your area.

  • Be Entertained

Do you have a favourite song that brings back memories or a TV show that you hate to miss? Watch great BBC shows on www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer

Go to www.google.com and type in what you are interested in eg football or try www.bbc.co.uk/sport for the latest news on your team. Find chat rooms full of likeminded people why not try www.sagazone.co.uk/forums

  • Stay Informed

The internet allows you to access information and news as it breaks. Check out today’s news on www.bbc.co.uk/news .

Read books on line www.isubscribe.co.uk to see magazines that you can download. Or download an audiobook www.audible.co.uk or www.waterstones.com to feast your eyes on the latest novel or old classics.

Staying safe

Technology has revolutionised our lives and there are things you can do to stay safe:

Safety first

  1. Trust your common sense: if you are not sure, don’t risk it
  2. Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date (usually annually)to stop rogue messaging and  links affecting your computer
  3. Shopping online? Check for the padlock sign. (This means the site is secure.)
  4. Never respond to emails from people you don’t know. You won’t have won money from a competition you didn’t enter and a foreign prince won’t really be desperate to share his millions with you
  5. Don’t write passwords down and don’t share them with others
  6. Use different passwords for different online accounts
  7. Your bank will never ask you for password information: an email that seems to be from your bank, yet asks to confirm your personal details will be fake
  8. Always log out if you are using a public computer or others will see your information
  9. If there might be children using your computer you can set up parental controls if children to stop them accessing content such as pornography, gambling and dating, that’s meant for adults
  10. If you’re unsure – ask a friend about reputable websites

Sharing information about yourself

We all have a digital shadow, so remember everything you do can leave a trace, use trusted websites, act responsibly and treat others with respect

For more information take a look at www.explore.ee.co.uk/digital-living or visit www.getsafeonline.org.uk

EE will be hosting ‘EE National Techy Tea Party Day’ on Tuesday 9 September in all of its stores to further tackle digital exclusion across the UK. Visit www.ee.co.uk/ttpday to find out more.

Find out more about getting online on our website.

Age Scotland’s sister charity, Age UK, produces an Internet Security guide which can be accessed online from the Age UK website at www.ageuk.org.uk or call Silver Line Scotland on 0800 4 70 80 90 to request a copy.

 

 

 

A tale of ‘The Sweater Curse’ and social knitworking

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is over for the year but Texan, Elaine Liner takes a look back at her Edinburgh experiences and shares some of her marketing secrets.

Elaine Liner in Sweater Curse A Yarn About Love

Elaine Liner in Sweater Curse A Yarn About Love.

When I finally started telling my friends back home in Dallas, Texas, that I had written a play I’d be performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer, they all asked: “What’s it about?”

I usually said, “It’s about knitting.” And then they’d change the subject. Pretty sure most of them thought I was delusional. Who’d want to see a play about knitting performed by a 59-year-old Texan making her acting debut in a 30-seat theatre at the biggest arts festival on the planet?

Well, it turns out lots of people did. As I head home after 32 days in Edinburgh and 25 performances of Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love, I’m still amazed and happy that, given more than 2000 choices of shows at this year’s Fringe, so many theatergoers took a chance on mine. I had five-star reviews and full houses, including the final Sunday.

When the lights would come up at a performance and I’d see patrons knitting and crocheting in their seats, I couldn’t help but smile. That’s what I’d envisioned as I spent a year rehearsing and polishing the play.

For months before I got to Scotland, I emailed knitting clubs in and around Edinburgh, inviting them to see my play at the Fringe and reminding them to bring their knitting. I Tweeted and Facebooked, too, making contact with yarn stores, pub and cafe knitting groups, and individual crafters, especially seniors. This, more than the usual “flyering” on the Royal Mile, brought me an audience I knew would understand my show.

Elaine Liner at the Big Knit


Through her contacts Elaine found out about and joined us for a fun Big Knit event

Because Sweater Curse isn’t really a play about knitting. If you saw it — and thank you to everyone who did — you know that my message is more than just a lesson in the history of putting stitches on needles.

What I want to share with this piece is a little journey through the knotty problems of finding love. And to let people of every age know that sometimes you have to “tink back” a few times in life to learn the tough lessons. Also, that age is no barrier to living your dreams, whatever they may be.

A big reason I came to Edinburgh with this show is that I will turn 60 this November. I’ve never had a “bucket list,” but this year I did develop a “Why not?” philosophy. Write a play based on my obsessions with knitting and my history of lousy boyfriends? Why not? Take it to the Fringe as a total unknown? Why not? Raise the thousands of dollars it takes to do that? Sure, why not?

And it happened. Best of all, my tribe of women and men who love making things, who love theatre … who love — they found me. And for 60 minutes in a tiny spot above Grassmarket, our lives were knitted together.

Now the question I keep hearing is: “Will you be back at the Fringe next year?”

At this moment, I can’t think of a single reason why not.

—-
Follow Elaine Liner on Twitter @TheSweaterPlay or on Tumblr at SweaterCurse.Tumblr.com. You can email her at SweaterCursePlay@gmail.com

Elaine also features in our Age Scotland video from the Big Knit event.

Painting Leith with memories

Morvern Cunningham, Event Coordinator and Festival Producer for LeithLate writes a blog post for us explaining how their new mural came about and the part that older people had to play in ensuring it reflected the history and memories of the local community.

 Halmyre Street Mural

Photo of Halmyre Street Mural by Eoin Carey

A team of (mostly) Leith based artists have revealed their final design for a new mural on Halmyre Street.in Leith, and with public art becoming a proud part of Leith’s identity the artists decided that it was important to ground the design by involving Leithers of all ages.

The artists met with a group of older women from Jamieson Place; Port of Leith’s supported accommodation.

Some of the main items of reference in the final mural came from this research with the older women, things like the reference to policeman Willy Merrilees disguising himself as a baby (see The Mural Project explained below) and many other stories about long-dead Leithers which none of the Leith-based artists had heard! You could say that the tentacles were also a reference to this.

LeithLate

What was really important though, was the grounding of the artists’ final design very much in Leith, and these research sessions with folk that had lived in Leith all their lives really contributed to that for the artists.

I also know for a fact that the ladies had a great time coming along and contributing to the sessions, and it was great to see them take ownership of the final piece at the unveiling: they were all lining up and getting their photos taken with it! Great stuff

Find out more about the Mural project on their Facebook page: LeithLate 

More about the background and meaning behind Leith’s latest mural:

The project was realised in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council (who provided the majority of the budget) and Police Scotland, and funded by CEC, Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, Port of Leith Housing Association and Scotmid. A total of 6 artists were involved: Fraser Gray, Skint Richie, Rabiya Choudhry, Martin McGuinness and the duo known as DUFI. The collective worked on the design of the mural for around 8 weeks, a period of time which included research sessions with older Leithers from local housing associations, a tour of Leith’s pre-existing murals, and trips to local points of interest such as maritime museum Trinity House and the last steam ship registered to Leith, the SS Explorer.  A series of art workshops are due to take place with young people from the local area, in response to the mural’s artwork.

The final artwork is a nautical one, with busy seascape, a serene skyscape above and a ship moving forward beyond the design. The outline of the sun above the ship can also be seen as a giant head, itself moving forward in time. Points of interest in the final artwork include:

The mural as a whole is a large reworking of the Leith Persevere crest, and depicts a ship sailing across a striped sea.

The ship in the mural is based on the SS Explorer, the last steam ship to be registered to Leith and which is currently undergoing restoration by a team of volunteers and enthusiasts. The initials L.H. are on the boat, pertaining to Leith Harbour, and a nautical flag to the rear tells its readers ‘Open For Communication’.

A large sun broken by clouds rises up behind the ship. Its curve on the left follows the original arch on the tunnel, but on the right slips down into a human silhouette. This personification of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ represents the strength of character and identity typical of the average ‘Leither’.

Beneath the sea all is busy, much like life in Leith itself. A Newhaven fishwife’s song ‘Wha’l Buy My Caller Herrin” dips beneath the waves, a toilet seat (both a reference to the film adaptation of Trainspotting, and the Garde Loo boat that used to tip waste into the Firth of Forth) dwells at the bottom.

Tentacles, referring to the many stories and urban myths that abound in Leith swirl up from the depths. Unexploded mines (which are still present in the Forth today) loom menacingly while a pram (which refers to the story of Willy Merrilees, a below-stature policeman who once disguised himself as a baby to catch a criminal) bobs away on the tide.

A crab, representing the stalwart image of an older Leith and its Perseverance, as well as the zodiac sign of the majority of the artists, floats by a spaceman helmet – a reference both to the alienation of certain communities within Leith, as well as to an absent member of the artists’ collective: Mike Inglis. The gramophone on the left hand side acts as a counterbalance to the toilet and nods to the many antique shops and record shops along Leith Walk and Easter Road.

A swan in the top right hand corner, which is a reference to Swanfield and previous murals in that area. The heron refers to the sizable heron population that can be regularly seen along the Water of Leith.

A cat in the top right hand corner links this mural to the previous mural which stood on the site, as it is the only image that is retained of the original artwork which was painted by artist David Wilkinson (sadly subsequently obscured and defaced by graffiti tagging, prior to the new mural installation).