A Whyteleafe resident of 5 years, Yolanda stopped working full-time in 2014 due to difficulties with her mental health. She now volunteers 2 afternoons a week in Caterham thanks to the support of a Tandridge Hub enabler.
Before her referral to Tech to Community Connect, Yolanda only had access to a smartphone to get online – and although she has plenty of desktop computing experience, she had never used a tablet before. During our interview, Yolanda told me about her experiences in the Tech to Community Connect project, and how it has helped her ‘Get Connected’!
A dedicated ‘trekkie’, knitter and international food enthusiast, I had a wonderful time discussing everything from our favourite Netflix shows to the ways a tablet has supported her mental health.
Yes, I was working with Lucy R. I used to see her in Caterham every Wednesday afternoon at a drop in.
I suffer with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia and have problems leaving the house. I am now able to get on a bus locally, so I was able to travel to Caterham to see Lucy at the drop in session.
It was during one of our discussions, I mentioned that there were some online courses I was interested in.
At that time, we were just chatting, but months afterwards when Covid hit and things were becoming available on zoom, I only had my phone – I don’t have a computer, so I was finding things really awkward.
Reading and downloading things on my phone were difficult, because I didn’t have much memory and the screen was so small.
I mentioned about my phone to a support worker at the Richmond Fellowship, and she offered to refer me to the Tech to Community Connect project, who would help me with a tablet.
Well, she kept me in the loop and made sure I was happy with the referral. After a little while I got a phone call from one of the tech team.
We spoke on the phone about what I was looking for, and what kind of support I needed. That was followed up with a tablet being sent, and a visit where I was shown how the tablet worked and how to use all the different things on it.
I had one long visit where I was shown how to use the tablet, but my background is office based so I’m quite familiar with using computers. This maybe meant I didn’t need quite as much support. I also had my daughter, who was very helpful.
I used it for social things and looking up courses online. But I also like listening to music.
I took part in quite a few different courses. One of them was an evening art course called ‘Introduction to Watercolours’ through the Mary Frances Trust – although while doing that one, I had to get creative to stand the tablet up!
I also did a few zoom workshops with the Richmond Fellowship on supporting emotional needs, working on anxiety and stress – things like that.
There was another site I found – Healthy Surrey. I found that really useful because you can go and look at the different sessions that are run by different organisations.
During the lockdowns, I used the tablet to try and find things to do. For a while I was trying to teach myself chess, so I downloaded an app. I also joined a local group that I found online, the knitting ninjas. During lockdown they collected wool, which we have been using to make baby hats and blankets for the premature babies at the local hospital.
Youtube is also really good for learning different stitches and trying different patterns.
One thing I used to do was prop the tablet up in the kitchen. So when I was cooking with my daughter – say we were doing a ‘Mexican night’ – we’d find Mexican music and play it as if we were in a restaurant with the music going in the background.
We had a Spanish, and an Indian night as well – it was fun finding playlists on Spotify and feeling like we were in a restaurant.
While we were cooking, if my daughter’s partner was around, we’d all end up dancing in the kitchen!
She’s moved out now – but I’ll be having dance parties by myself.
I don’t know really.. I have binge-watched a whole lot of Netflix. I have watched the whole of Star Trek on Netflix!
Goes to show how much time I spend indoors…
(I must note that we agreed that The Next Generation is the best series)
Well, getting emails and attachments are much easier on the tablet, because the phone is quite small.
I think mainly it’s been feeling a more included in things I can’t physically get to. Like the Richmond fellowship is based in Redhill, so being able to join in the groups on zoom really helped me – especially through lockdown. Being able to see other people kept you sane really.
Also facetiming my family – I didn’t see my sister for months on end. Keeping in touch with family, and even now, with my daughter having moved away it’s so good.
Of all the technologies, that’s the best one that I’ve found. To see another person and talk to them virtually.
When you have mental health issues and you can’t get out, the tablet means that you’re not isolated – you can reach out in other ways.
I still feel confused about some things, like the storage and what the cloud means. I am also still getting to grips with apps and the Appstore.
I do know a lot more than I did about using the internet now – I can use Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp, all of that on the tablet. So I guess its still a confidence issue.
I would say that the help is there, and that you are never too old to learn – don’t be embarrassed about not knowing something.
I want to say that you’ll find use for it in your own way, you might find something you really like to do!