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).

Apps for work and community

Learn WorkSpace for yourself or a team

A course for adventurous senior citizens at Mildmay Community Centre – Monday afternoons in March 2023

NB: This course has finished.

This is a course about being able to do something useful or essential – apps used by work teams, individual entrepreneurs and creators. You will learn the basics of Google WorkSpace – a package of apps widely used by business and non-profit organisations.

The apps are designed for teams as well as single users – and (like most workplace software now) they all run in the cloud – where you can access them from any location – as well as the computer you are using at home or in an office.

You probably access your personal email in a cloud server. Workplace software extends that kind of access to everything you do at work – vastly increasing productivity – and (a key concept) simplifying immediate collaboration with other people you work with.

This is not new – but if your work experience is not recent, you might not realise how much has changed in the last 10 years. Your tutor has been using this system since 2007, for personal use, community projects, and as a part-time employee of charity MRS – Independent Living (which uses WorkSpace for internal and external processes).

This could be right for you if …

  • You are still in the job market in some way (including self-employment, return to work after retirement, or thinking about it) – or –
  • You are a carer, expecting to resume employment eventually – or –
  • You are interested in digital skills for business, non-profit, volunteering or education – or –
  • You would like to know more about collaborative methods actually used in work places – or –
  • You are a regular user of WorkSpace email such as seniors.org.uk or bold.org.uk – or –
  • You are a regular user of Gmail.com, and would like to start using the other apps available to you.

Course level

  • This is not a highly advanced course – but it is definitely not suitable for digital beginners, or anyone who needs 1:1 help.
  • Main guideline: you should have an email address that you know how to use without help (that’s why sign-up is by email only).

Your privacy – if you join …

  • You will not use your personal email or ID.
  • We will provide temporary WorkSpace accounts with access to all the cloud apps.

What are the Workspace cloud apps?

Below is a list of apps that we will look at during the course. If you have email at seniors.org.uk or bold.org.uk, you already have all the apps. If you use Gmail.com, you have limited personal versions of most of them.

Obviously, you won’t become proficient in all of those apps during a short course. But you will know what they are, and how to get started.

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

Learning with laptops

How to use our drop-in laptops

A double workshop at Mildmay Community Centre – Monday afternoons in February 2023

NB: this workshop has finished.

How to be a classier laptopper

We have recently acquired more laptop computers, which will help to double the number of people who can learn effectively at the Wednesday afternoon drop-in.

This workshop will help you understand how to use the laptops (new and previous) …

  • to do all the things you have always wanted to do
    • (especially word-processing)
  • as well as some of the things you didn’t know you could do.

We will also investigate the best possible use of the space in the main hall — as we did during the last smartphone course (we discovered that we should project onto the large drop-down screen – and that community centre should upgrade the main hall wifi, which they have done).

One workshop – two afternoons

  • This will be a single workshop, spread out over two sessions.

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

Community Learning

A diverse group of nine older people are seated at tables in a bright, sunny room. They are all studying the smartphone in their hands.

Community-based digital for older people

Updated 31 May 2024

Our learning sessions are for small groups of older people, focussing together on one topic that is important to them.

We think Groupwork is a better way to describe what we do — it differentiates us from the common Adult Education model, in which everything is predictable and pre-plannned, with an abrupt ending for learners. Our Groupwork is co-designed, co-produced and delivered entirely by older people — and can be followed up at our weekly Digital Drop-in.

Mildmay Community Centre