Digital tablets provide lifeline for Wirral residents

A Wirral man has been gifted a digital tablet, providing him a lifeline to the outside world during the Covid-19 pandemic while he is recovering from a stroke.

Andy Cave Riverside’s Project Officer who is managing the roll-out of equipment to residents, with the digital tablet.

In 2014 Mr Steven Cavanagh suffered a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage, which is a rare type of stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain. Since then he has been recovering from the illness which has left him suffering severe fatigue, anxiety and forgetfulness.

Before lockdown Steven, 57, was attending weekly sessions with a brain injury charity but they were suspended while lockdown restrictions are in place.

Missing these valuable sessions exaggerated his anxiety and his medication was increased in order to cope.

The weekly sessions were replaced by video calls to people using the service but he didn’t have the appropriate equipment or internet connection to access the meetings.

Steven lives at Ormerod Court, a retirement living scheme in Bebington, run by housing association Riverside.

A member of staff heard of his plight of not being able to attend meetings virtually and the affect it was having on his health, so put him forward to receive a digital tablet and Mi-fi unit (a portable wireless router that connects the user to the internet via a cellular network) so he can continue receiving the support via video sessions during the pandemic.

“I’m so pleased with the gift, receiving the digital tablet and Mi-fi unit has made a huge difference to my life,” says Steven.

“I’m able to join group meetings with my therapy group via video calls, and I’m able to play the recommended memory games which helps to occupy my mind and it has lowered my anxiety enough that my medication has been reduced again.

“Thank you to Riverside for helping me get part of my life back again.”

£50,000 digital tablet project given to residents in supported housing services across the country.

Steven is one of many Riverside residents who have received digital equipment as a lifeline so they can get online and keep in touch with family and friends during the Covid-19 crisis.

Riverside has purchased hundreds of the gadgets and technical equipment worth £50,000 so residents in its supported accommodation across the country can stay connected with the outside world.

The digital tablets have either been gifted to people who need them or given to schemes which is then loaned to residents.

Life has also been made easier for Stephen Payne as he also received a digital tablet and Mi-fi unit to help him with job searches and keeping abreast of his Universal Credit.

“I’m absolutely made up. I’m always trying to resolve issues with Universal Credit so having this tablet has really helped me sort it all out. I was worried about what to do and I couldn’t afford a tablet of my own. Now I regularly log into my account as well as using it to search for jobs, receiving the tablet has made a real difference to me,” says Stephen of Blair Court retirement living scheme in Prenton.

The digital equipment has come from the housing association’s funding pot that helps people overcome obstacles for a better quality of life.

Andy Cave, Riverside’s Project Officer who is managing the roll-out of equipment to residents, said: “These digital tablets are a lifeline for many of our customers who are in challenging circumstances, so it will enable them to keep in contact with family and friends as well as being able to check their benefit claims, look after finances and do all the other things we take for granted.

“We worked with EE to get the best deal for the equipment and provide an appropriate data package for residents. It is a vital resource to those that haven’t been able to use the communal lounge due to the government’s social distancing measures and as a result haven’t been able to access the scheme’s Wi-Fi.

“We have listened to what our customers have been telling us during lockdown and we believe this gesture will really help those people in greatest need. It will benefit people of all ages from 18 to 100 and from all kinds of backgrounds, but who have one thing in common in that they have been incredibly isolated, frustrated and lonely during lockdown. We hope residents will feel less socially isolated as they will be able to keep in touch with loved ones.”

Riverside is one of the largest provider of homelessness services in the country, and its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.