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).

Learn My Way

Digital skills courses online

The Learn My Way developer is Good Things Foundation. In their own words –

Learn My Way is a website of free online learning for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world.

We think you would like it — and it’s definitely a good drop-in activity.

So here is the link » https://www.learnmyway.com/ «

How to register as a Learn My Way learner

We offer two registration methods …

  1. We can give you a pre-registered LMW account, with a temporary email address
  2. You can make an account using your own email address or phone number.

1. Use one of our pre-registered Learn My Way accounts

This is by far the better method.

We will give you an oven-ready LMW username and password, so you can get started immediately. Please ask a helper at the Wednesday afternoon drop-in.

2. Create an account yourself on the Learn My Way website

For registration, you will need, before you start …

  • An email address that belongs to you
  • A password of at least 12 characters for your Learn My Way account
  • Our centre ID number: 8000601

Now click on this link » https://www.learnmyway.com/ «

The registration links are at the top and bottom of every Learn My Way page.

Do you need a printed guide?
  • Please ask a helper for our A4 handout ‘How to register for Learn My Way’.
A note on your privacy
  • Learn My Way is an education site. It’s not social media — and you can be sure that they will not misuse your information, or try to track your other online activities.
  • We think it is safe to use your personal email address for Learn My Way.

See also page: Learning – courses and workshops

Learn My Way, 24 April 2023

Online learning – in your own way

A workshop for senior citizens at Mildmay Community Centre – Monday 24 April, 2 to 4 pm

NB: this workshop has finished.

Learn My Way is a website of free online learning for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world.

This is a new version of Learn My Way. It’s obviously intended for people who don’t have much internet experience, but it’s not just for total beginners. We think you would like it — and it’s definitely a good drop-in activity.

So here is the link » https://www.learnmyway.com/ «

About the workshop

Where and when

  • Mildmay Community Centre (main hall).
  • 2 to 4 pm (it’s ok to arrive early – the café area is a nice place to wait).

What you will do and learn

  • It’s a one-off workshop to get you started with Learn My Way.
  • You will register as a learner (for that, you will need an email address that you can access at the workshop).
  • You will understand how to use the Learn My Way modules, and follow your own  progress.
  • And you will definitely learn something new.

How to sign up

  • Signing up in advance is not essential – but if we know you are coming, we will keep your place until 2:05 pm (ie- for five minutes). You can tell us you are coming in an email to learning@50pd.uk
  • Otherwise, it’s first come – first served.

After the workshop

  • You can carry on with Learn My Way whenever you like – anywhere you have internet access.
  • Our Wednesday afternoon drop-in would be a ideal place to continue Learn My Way. You can use our laptops with the community centre wifi, and help from our volunteers.

More information

Workshop organised by MRS – Independent Living (MRS-IL) – Digital Confidence project – 50pd.uk

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.