Free laptops for eligible older people
Updated 23 May 2023
NB (16 May) – our device bank laptops have all been allocated.
This is our local 50+ instance of the National Device Bank.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
- Shortcut to the user guide: https://50pd.uk/Yoga370UG — download it if you want to read it (which we think you should).
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).