Digital access can be a lifeline: how RHEA have supported Pavlos to get online

Pavlos, smiling and holding his iPad

RHEA (Richmond Hill Elderly Action) is a charity that works with and for people aged 55 and over living in Richmond Hill and the wider Leeds 9 area. RHEA currently has over 750 members and is always welcoming more to the social opportunities and support services it provides.

When Pavlos was referred to Donna, Engagement Officer at RHEA, he had no money, no food, and nobody around him to talk to. He has a mobile phone but no money for credit so he couldn’t call anyone. He had found that even calling free-phone numbers requires credit on his phone. Pavlos’s first language is Greek. He can speak some English but is unable to read English. His lack of credit and language barriers made it difficult for Pavlos to access support services, leaving him feeling isolated and very low.

Donna realised that access to the internet would help Pavlos to improve his ability to communicate, get better access to services, and enable him to do the things he is interested in whilst maintaining social distancing.

Donna was able to borrow a 4G iPad for Pavlos and has supported him to access services that interest him as well as improve his digital skills and confidence. When Pavlos needed more help than Donna was able to provide she referred him to The Tech Ladder, an organisation that delivers digital skills support.

Pavlos has been using the iPad to access books, films, and music in Greek. With the support of The Tech Ladder he has now has his own email address and Facebook account which has helped him to connect with people and services. He now attends a remote church service on a Sunday and has been exploring different Greek towns on Google Maps. Next he is looking at accessing newspapers through the Press Reader app  provided by libraries, meaning he will be able to access Greek newspapers as well as UK papers translated into Greek.

The ability to get online, in his first language, and make the most of the internet, has helped Pavlos to access the essential services he needs, be better informed, and have more control over his life. Being able to connect with friends and family has helped him feel less isolated. Having access to media, religious services, and his home country has helped Pavlos to feel more connected to his culture, and better able to manage his wellbeing.