50-Plus Device Bank – free smartphones for older people

50-Plus Digital has joined the National Device Bank scheme

The National Device Bank

You can read about the national scheme at the main website – goodthingsfoundation.org/national-device-bank

Our local 50-Plus Device Bank – a preview

We have already received a batch of refurbished smartphones — to be gifted to people in need.

They are all the same model — Galaxy XCover 4s — robust business phones in excellent condition — ideal for people whose primary IT needs are not recreational.

We are setting them up to be suitable for older people who might be relative digital beginners, prioritising accessibility, usability, privacy and security. Initially they will resemble the devices you use on our smartphone training courses. Of course, you can do whatever you like with them afterwards, and you may expect continued support at our weekly digital drop-in.

More information coming soon …

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q1: When can I get one, and how?

A1: We will start distributing to eligible people next week. For further details — keep in touch with us.

Q2: Does where I live affect my eligibiliity?

A2: For the smartphone scheme, you should be a resident of any London borough.

Cost of Living event (25 Jan) at Mildmay CC

NB: this event has finished.

Mildmay Community Centre will be open as usual Wednesday afternoon 25 January – but not for the Digital Drop-in.

Instead there will be an all-day Cost of Living event in the main hall – to which you are invited, of course. For more information, please visit page Cost of Living Event at The Mildmay.

50+ Digital is not involved in event arrangements, so there won’t be a normal digital drop-in — but the 50+ Data Bank will be open in the café area from 1:30 to 3 pm.

How to search the World-Wide Web on your phone or tablet

An older man (post-retirement age, but not elderly) is looking at a smartphone with a puzzled expression on his face. He has lifted his glasses to indicate that he needs a closer view of the screen.

Find information about the cost of living crisis and how to survive it

21 October 2022

NB: this workshop has finished.

It’s not always easy on a small screen

The primary content of the World-Wide Web is information, advice, opportunities, inspiration, contact and communication — for everyday life as well as education and business. This workshop is about how you can actively search for what you need.

We will start with basic beginner-level web search, and then progress as time allows. We suggest a focus on the cost of living because it is a major concern now, but we can follow up any topic that interests the group.

Search engines have become very sophisticated — but sometimes quite challenging on a small screen. Formulating a good search query requires practice and a basic understanding of how search engines work.

Try these five cost of living search queries in the Google search engine —

Different results of course, but are they the results you would need for your search on cost of living information? If you put the same searches into other search engines (eg: Bing, DuckDuckGo) you might notice even greater differences.

If you use a small screen, you probably want to keep web search as simple as possible, and you might like to feel that you are in control — and perhaps you would appreciate results that are genuinely useful, accurate and unbiased. This workshop will help you get there.

Venue: Whitmore Community Centre


See also page: Learning – courses and workshops

The 50-Plus Databank

Free internet connectivity for eligible older people

Updated 16 January 2023

The National Databank scheme will supply us with free SIM cards with mobile data for eligible recipients, up to one year. In their own words …

The National Databank provides free mobile data, texts and calls to people in need … Think of it like a food bank but for internet connectivity data.

Brief version of the deal

If you are surviving on a low income and you can’t afford your current internet conection, you are eligible for a free data plan and SIM card for your phone.

All you have to do is bring your unlocked phone to any Wednesday afternoon Digital Drop-in at Mildmay Community Centre.

The longer version is below …


Our databank for people aged 50 or better

Are you eligible for a free mobile data plan?

You should be living on a low income, eg: receiving a means-tested benefit (Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Universal Credit) — and you need mobile data for internet connection — and you meet at least one of the following criteria …

  • You have no access or insufficient access to the internet at home,
  • you have no or insufficient access to the internet when away from
    home,
  • you cannot afford your existing monthly contract or top up.

You will need a phone that you already know how to use, or that you are learning to use on a course for older beginners.

Your phone should be unlocked (or compatible with the databank SIM card).


The free mobile data plans

O2 data

  • A plan with 20 GB mobile data, plus unlimited calls and text messages.
  • The plan will refresh when you respond to a monthly text message.
  • The plan will expire after six months, but can be renewed for a further six months if you need it.

Three data

  • A plan with 24 GB mobile data, plus unlimited calls and text messages.
  • The 24 GB data is a total – it does not refresh monthly.

How does it work in practice?

If you are eligible …

  • A staff member or authorised volunteer will put the SIM card in your phone.
  • After you have signed for the SIM card, we will register it with the national databank and then activate it.

Our primary base will be the Wednesday afternoon drop-in at Mildmay Community Centre.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I keep my existing phone number?
  • I have a long-term contract that I cannot afford. Am I eligible?
    • Not while you still have the long-term contract. Please check the termination fee before you consider cancellation.
    • However, O2 have indicated that they will consider individual cases where an O2 contract might be replaced by a databank O2 plan. We would contact O2 on your behalf.
  • Does it make any difference where I live?
    • No!

What next?

If you think you are eligible or you need more information, contact us by email or phone …

… or (best) come to the next Wednesday afternoon drop-in at Mildmay Community Centre — details on page 50pd.uk/#support — please bring …

  • your unlocked phone
  • as much information as you can find about any existing contract or plan.

50-Plus Databank – free SIM cards for older people

50-Plus Digital has joined the National Databank scheme

The National Databank

You can read about this scheme at the main website – goodthingsfoundation.org/databank

In their own words …

“The National Databank provides free mobile data, texts and calls to people in need … Think of it like a food bank but for internet connectivity data.”

Our local 50-Plus Databank

The scheme has started. You can read about it on page The 50-Plus Databank.

Cost of Living for older people

Cost of Living. An older woman using a bank ATM, with a slightly apprehensive expression.

Cost of Living Information Event

NB: this event has finished.

Find out where and how to get help with energy bills, food, benefits and mobile phone data

Why

The aim of this event is to provide you with information and practical support on four priority areas affected by the cost of living crisis: money, energy, food and staying connected.

  • Encourage you to claim pension credit if you are eligible
  • Help you practically to access other sources of financial support where those sources require referral by a professional, or where digital support with online forms is required.
  • To provide information about where and how you can access free or subsidised food and data connectivity.
  • To reassure you that help with energy/utility bills is available if you are struggling, and where you can go for advice if you need it.

What

  • We will start at 10:15 am with short presentations on each of the focus areas: energy, food, staying connected and money
  • This will be followed by 15 mins Q&A or open floor discussion.
  • Then you can collect a handout pack, get a cup of tea or coffee, and circulate between the tables to talk to staff, ask questions, request referrals etc.
  • We will finish at 12 pm.
  • There will be lunch for people staying on for the Digital Drop-in that starts at 1pm.

When

  • Wednesday morning 21 September, 10:15 am to 12 noonbefore the afternoon Digital Dropin.

Where

  • Mildmay Community Centre,
    Woodville Rd,
    N16 8NA
  • Transport information, map and other details at 50pd.uk/#support

Who

  • If you are 50 or better, this is for you – wherever you live.

Organised by MRS – Independent Living

Financially-related digital support afternoons – 10 & 17 August 2022

Wednesday 10 August

NB: these events have finished.

This was the first of two urgent sessions for older people who need help to apply for Council tax energy rebate or Pension Credit and cost of living payment — before it is too late to claim.

35 people turned up — most needing this extra support — so we were very busy. Even with nine helpers (including the industrious CSR team from Methods), we had not quite finished, so we will carry on next week.

We didn’t have time to make photos.

Pension Credit and the cost of living payment

Notes on applying for Pension Credit

Updated 12 August 2022

These notes and links are for learners and volunteers at our Wednesday afternoon Mildmay Community Centre drop-in.

By the way – we cannot provide financial advice of any kind; it’s not what we do.

The 18 August deadline

  • The deadline for the full £650 Cost of Living payment is Thursday 18 August 2022.
  • To get the full £650, you must have qualified for Pension Credit between 26 April and 25 May.
  • But Pension Credit applications can be backdated for three months so 18 August is the final cut-off date to start a claim for the Cost of Living payment.

If you live with someone else

  • If you live with someone else, even if that person is not your partner — you must provide information about benefits that person receives.

Pension Credit Calculator

Links for Pension Credit and Cost of Living Payment

Goverment links

Video


Are you looking for information about the Council Tax Energy Rebate? Visit our blog post Council tax energy rebate

Council tax energy rebate

Notes on applying for the energy rebate

Updated 12 August 2022

These notes and links are for learners and volunteers at our Wednesday afternoon Mildmay Community Centre drop-in.

Important to understand – the rebate is not a grant from your borough council. It is a payment from central government, administered by the council in their own way.

By the way – we cannot provide financial advice of any kind; it’s not what we do.

Links for the energy rebate

If you pay Council Tax by direct debit

If you pay your Council Tax by direct debit you should have have received your rebate already — you don’t need the support offered on this page.

If you do NOT pay Council Tax by direct debit

You should apply to your local authority as soon as possible.

Deadlines

If you receive Council Tax Reduction
  • Bands A to D your deadline is 14 November 2022.
  • Bands E to H your deadline is 14 November 2022.
If you do NOT receive Council Tax Reduction
  • Bands A to D your deadline is 31 August 2022.
  • Bands E to H you are not eligible for the rebate.

A. Find your property reference number

  1. Visit the government web page gov.uk/council-tax-bands
  2. Click / tap on the button labelled Start now — then follow the instructions. This does not take long, but it is not easy for digital beginners. If you are stuck, please ask a helper.
  3. Eventually, you will land on a page that shows your property reference number (write it down now) — and also (if you were not sure) confirmation of your local authority and Council Tax band.

B. Do you have an email address you can use effectively?

Possession of an email address is not always enough. Ask yourself these questions …

  • Do you know your correct email address?
  • Can you open your email on the device you use most often? Or – if you don’t have a device of your own – can you open your email on one of our training laptops or tablets?

If your answer to those questions is no, you should probably apply for your rebate by phone (the numbers to call are on this page below).

If your answer is don’t know or not sure, please ask a helper to send you an email so you can check before you do anything else.

By the way – should we tell the council our email address?
  • Yes — if you are totally confident that you are able — in all circumstances, now and in the future — to read, act on, and reply to email sent by the council. At least one nearby council will stop sending you conventional letters if you give them an email address.

C. Do you know your bank account details?

  • You will need your account number and sort code.

D. Register with GrantApproval.co.uk

This step is difficult for digital beginners, but required for online applications. You will need …

  • Your Council Tax account number.
  • Your property reference number.
  • A phone number.
  • An email address.
  • A password for grantapproval.co.uk (please write it down as soon as you have made it).
  • To register, visit web page grantapproval.co.uk
  • Follow the instructions.
  • When you have finished at grantapproval.co.uk, remember to log out.

Boroughs

Hackney

Hackney Council Tax rebate online form

  1. Visit web page hackney.gov.uk/ct-rebate
  2. Read the page carefully, then choose one of the four options.
  3. You might be asked to log back into GrantApproval.co.uk
  4. Follow the instructions at GrantApproval.co.uk

Hackney Council Tax rebate phone number

  • 0208 356 3111, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.
  • Do not assume that your call will be answered quickly.

Haringey

Islington

Tower Hamlets

Waltham Forest


Are you looking for information about Pension Credit and/or the Cost of Living payment? Visit our blog post Pension Credit and the cost of living payment