50-plus device bank laptops

Free laptops for eligible older people

Updated 23 May 2023

NB (16 May 2023) – our device bank laptops have all been allocated.

This is our local 50+ instance of the National Device Bank.

On this page:
Eligibility criteriaOur prioritiesIn practiceAbout the laptopsWhat next?


Eligibility criteria

Everyone asking for a free laptop must be over 18, living in a London borough – and meet the following eligibility criteria set by the National Device Bank …

  • be from a low income household
  • not possess a reliable laptop
  • have a need for a reliable laptop
  • can’t afford a reliable laptop

Please note the phrase low income. The National Device Bank do not have a precise definition; our assumption is ‘surviving on Pension Credit, Universal Credit, or similar benefits’. But please understand that this is not a means-tested procedure.

Please note the word reliable. If (like many older people) you are struggling with an ancient laptop that is useless for any purpose, and you fit the other criteria – please apply.

If you are not sure if you are eligible, please contact us by email to devicebank@50pd.uk


Our priorities

We will prioritise low-income older people who need a reliable laptop mainly for non-recreational use – particularly …

  • People who want to be economically active / independent.
  • Active job seekers.
  • Retired people trying to return to work (including self-employment).
  • People enrolled in further or adult education.
  • Unpaid carers.
  • People isolated by illness or disability.
  • People willing to research a personally relevant topic (for example – resources for asylum seekers, language learners, dyslexia, visual impairment or cognitive decline) and share their results with all of us.
  • People who want to make original content for the WWW (for example – writing, music, photo, video, podcast, blog) and share it with all of us.
  • Community connectors, volunteers and activists.

People in those broad priority categories should be able to make a case for needing a reliable laptop if they haven’t got one.


In practice

We are accountable to the National Device Bank about what happens to the laptops. That is why the procedure cannot be first-come, first-served.

So who we are really looking for are older people with a story about why they need a laptop, what they can’t do now that is holding them back, what they would be able to do after they get one – and therefore we hope, an unfolding story about how it worked out.

We are not going to manage the laptops after we have handed them over. That’s up to you. This is what we will do …

  • Set up the laptop for your purpose.
  • Provide the support you would expect from us anyway (including remote support).

About the laptops

Lenovo Yoga 370

  • Business laptops professionally refurbished to a high standard.
  • 13.3″ touchscreen (1920 * 1080 full HD resolution).
  • SIM-enabled (free Vodafone data-only 40 Gb per month data plan included, for 6 months).
  • Webcam & stereo speakers.
  • Intel i5 processor.
  • 8 Gb RAM.
  • 240 Gb SSD storage.
  • WiFi internet connectivity.
  • Windows 10 Pro operating system installed. Compatible with Linux Mint operating system.
  • Charger & cable.
  • 12-month warranty provided by the refurbishers Reconome.
Our notes about the Yoga 370
  • This is a good spec for the right kind of user.
  • Perhaps not ideal for digital beginners.
  • The 13.3″ screen is smaller than any of the Digital Drop-in laptops. The actual screen dimensions are 11.6 inches wide * 6.5 inches high (29.5 cm * 16.5 cm). That’s the size of a large tablet. It’s also a very popular laptop size, but people with a visual disadvantage might struggle to use it.
  • However the 360º hinge allows it to be used as though it were a tablet.
  • SIM-enabled means there is a slot for a data-only SIM card (‘data-only’ means it can’t be used for phone calls or SMS text). We haven’t tested how the data plan would cope with the demands of Windows.
User guide online
Our notes about operating system, setup and software

Your laptop has Windows 10 Pro installed, but not set up. You can either set it up yourself, in your own way — or ask us to set it up for you, in our way. If you would like Linux Mint (or any other operating system) installed, we can do that for you after you have received the laptop.

About our optional Windows 10 setup

  • Our optional setup follows the same principles as our safety-first drop-in laptops.
  • We will also install the Firefox web browser (needed to complete our setup).
  • We will download some other software that we use at the Digital Drop-in (eg- the LibreOffice office suite) but we won’t install it because that is something you can do yourself.
A note about word-processors and other office software

We have added this obvious note only because the National Device Bank has made a special point of it.

Microsoft’s marketing strategy uses Windows to promote their other products, including Office 365. One of their tricks is to offer a subscription discounted to free for one year, then hit you with the full £6 per month when they have locked you into it. Nobody living on a low income can afford that, so would feel deceived and stranded.

But if you need office apps, you don’t have to fall into that trap. LibreOffice is free. Google Docs and related apps are free for everyone who has a Google account. Wordpad is a simple word-processor present on all Windows devices. For people who don’t have enough Microsoft in their life, it is easy to buy earlier versions of MS Office for an acceptable price (eg- this one).

50-Plus Device Bank – free smartphones for older people

50-Plus Digital has joined the National Device Bank scheme

15 March 2023: we have distributed all the Device Bank smartphones.

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 smartphones

We have already distributed our first batch of refurbished smartphones — gifted to people with low incomes (eg- Universal Credit, Pension Credit, etc).

Not sure if you are eligible? Ask us!

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. With each phone, we provide a SIM card with free mobile data for at least six months.

We have set them up to be suitable for older people who might be relative digital beginners, prioritising accessibility, usability, privacy and security. Initially they 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.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q1: When can I get one, and how?

A1: Find us at the weekly Digital Drop-in. 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.

Q3: I’m using an old Nokia phone. Will I be able to upgrade my brain to smartphone standard?

A3: You are probably 100% eligible. Most recipients so far had an old Nokia before, and have found that smartphones are actually quite easy to use — and quick access to the internet has made their lives more cheerful.

Cost of Living event (25 Jan 2023) 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 Data Bank

A young woman wearing a HausOfShee top and a much older African-Caribbean man. They are examining the contents of a SIM card pack.
Whitney and Walter at the Digital Drop-in – with a Data Bank SIM card

Free internet connectivity for eligible older people

Updated 26 September 2023

NB: we have allocated all the SIM cards provided by the National Databank.


Brief version of the deal

If you are surviving on a low income and you can’t afford your current internet connection, 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 — 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,
  • or – you have no or insufficient access to the internet when away from
    home,
  • or – 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.
  • 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!

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 18 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 2022 deadline

  • The deadline for the full £650 Cost of Living payment was Thursday 18 August 2022.
  • To get the full £650, you must have qualified for Pension Credit between 26 April and 25 May 2022.
  • But Pension Credit applications can be backdated for three months so 18 August 2022 was 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