Hartlepool store’s support helping OAPs to get connected

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

A mobile phone shop is helping Hartlepool’s older generation to plug into the worldwide web.

The O2 store in Middleton Grange shopping centre gave 10 free wifi hot spots to Incontrol-able, a disabled person user-led organisation’s.

My son in London will be very surprised when he finds out I can communicate with him

Bob Bousfield, 83

It has provided a big boost to Project 65 which sees Incontrol-able loan out touch-screen tablets to the over 65s.

The project has proved a huge success since its launch in November loaning more than 20 tablets to people with an average age of 78.

O2 got on board after reading about the project in the Mail.

The wifi hot spots will enable users to connect to the internet from home.

Bob Bousfield, 83, who has never used a computer is one of those who is to receive one of the tablets and wifi connections.

Mr Bousfield, of Laurel Gardens, Hartlepool, said: “I’m looking forward to it. I will be able to talk to my son in London.

“He is always saying I should get the internet so he will be very surprised when he finds out I can communicate with him.”

O2 staff will also run a series of workshops to help members of Project 65, and the similar Ricochet project for people with disabilities, to use the tablets to stay in touch with family and friends and online shopping.

Amy Tucker, O2 sales worker, said: “We just think it’s a really good thing to help with and give something back to the community.

“We want to help people come into the 21st Century and help to show them what they can do with the technology and not be scared of it.”

Michael Slimings, director of Incontrol-able, said it was an amazing gesture by O2.

He said: “One of the biggest barriers for older people is they are scared of the internet and of making that commitment for broadband.

“The support from O2 has enabled us to fill that gap.”

The project is supported by Hartlepool Borough Council as part of its work to reduce social isolation.

Jeanette Willis, head of strategic commissioning, said: “It is a really positive project and is getting people connected with communities.”
O2’s first workshop takes place at Hartlepool Central Library on Friday, March 24, at 10am.