“If anyone needs to get out and do things, do it on a computer. It’s a fantastic freedom”.
Michael, 64, talks about the positive impact that getting a laptop and being online has had on his life.
Michael is retired and lives with his four dogs. He enjoys model making and before the pandemic, he used to go to a nursing home to teach the residents to make and paint models. “I used to spend more time chatting than anything else… It gave them a chance to talk and relive their lives and tell their stories.”
Michael would use computers during his work roles – but when he retired, he didn't have access to a computer. About two years ago he began using the internet via a smartphone, but found it challenging due to the size of the screen and his eyesight.
When the pandemic hit, a neighbour used to do some shopping for Michael. He wanted to do more for himself online but couldn’t afford a device. “Being retired and disabled…, money was a bit tight – so buying a computer [was not possible].” As he was clinically vulnerable and shielding, he received a letter from Brighton & Hove City Council that listed available support. Michael called the Digital Brighton & Hove Support Line. Michael said he wouldn’t have known where to go for digital support until he received the letter, although he has had some ad-hoc help from someone who was working at the local food bank.
Michael now has a laptop through the Digital Brighton & Hove and TechTakeBack refurbishment scheme. He also receives occasional support from a Digital Champion. Michael is now doing his food shopping for himself, which has helped him to be more independent. He also does online shopping on behalf of his neighbours. Michael also uses technology to access health and medication information on the NHS website and monitor his heart rate.
Being retired and disabled…, money was a bit tight – so buying a computer [was not possible]
Being online has helped Michael to pursue his interests. He’s been looking up wildlife, natural history, photographs from a space station, playing a snooker game and finding details for his model making. Michael says the learning he is doing is helping him through this time in his life:
“As I got older, I wanted to learn how to do something properly… It is very helpful… If I need to find out what a tablet does, I get online and Google it and find out what it is. I’ve sort of gone backwards… I’m learning now as a pensioner basically.”
Michael told us that being online has had a positive impact on his life in terms of confidence and social connection. Even though unable to go outside, Michael has found a freedom in being online:
“I’ve been able to get out and do it more than I did before, so just to say if anyone needs to get out and do things, do it on a computer. It’s a fantastic freedom…. It’s helped with life, you know, keeps your life going instead of just sitting stagnating while this virus ruins the world, you can go out and see the world as it was or as it could be… That’s how I feel since I done it."