Funding boost for project helping pensioners get online

O2's Amy Tucker hands over the WiFi hotspots to Michael Slimings, with Ben Jones, Jeanette Willis and Robbie Bousfield.
O2's Amy Tucker hands over the WiFi hotspots to Michael Slimings, with Ben Jones, Jeanette Willis and Robbie Bousfield.

An initiative that helps Hartlepool’s older generation to stay in touch with the world through technology is to continue for another year.

Project 65 run by Incontrol-able, a disabled person-led Community Interest Company, and loans out tablet devices to pensioners so they can connect with friends and family online, or shop using the internet.

Funded by the Northgate Public Services Community Fund, it launched in town in November last year.

And project leaders have told of their delight after they recently secured funding for another 12 months.

Michael Slimings, director of Incontrol-able, said: “We have secured funding again from Northgate Public Services so it is great news.

“Referrals are still coming in, we have just got one from a man who is 96.

“Our target in the first year was to reach 100 people and we have met that which we are more than delighted about.

“We are talking to lots of new organisations and are asking them to refer to the service.”

O2 in Hartlepool, which has supported the project by running workshops showing clients how to get to grips with the tablets, have also pledged their continue support.

Project 65 aims to take away the fear factor for older people of new technology.

Clients have learned how to use social media and services such as Skype to be able to contact friends and family.

Around three quarters of them go on to purchase their own devices after taking advantage of the free loans through the project.

Project 65 is also supported by Hartlepool Borough Council and has been praised for helping to address the issue of isolation among the elderly in Hartlepool.

A council spokesman said: “The council welcomes the continued support for the project from the Northgate Public Services Community Fund.

“The success of the project and the outcomes achieved for individuals have been outstanding.”

It is estimated 35% of older people in Hartlepool live alone.