Now people are well and truly connected!

Published on: 26 Sep 2013

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A CAMPAIGN to develop more links and activities for older people in the area has taken a big step forward thanks to a highly successful launch event.

Downend Connect is an initiative spearheaded by Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council and South Gloucestershire Council aimed at reducing isolation among retired people.

It was unveiled during a launch held at Badminton Gardens in Beaufort Road, which was attended by 65 people in addition to the residents of the extra-care housing.

Visitors were able to find out about courses to pursue, groups to join and opportunities for volunteering.

Among those with stalls at the event were the parish council, University of the Third Age, Downend Folk House, Phoenix Art Club, Downend Baptist Church, Christ Church Downend, the Carers Centre and the craft group based at Badminton Gardens.

Visitors were encouraged to give details of the activities in which they are already involved and those that they might like to take up.

Organisers are going through the responses and will act upon them. Already, they have identified a need for computer courses for beginners and have set up a course for older people. It will take place at the library on Tuesday afternoons and will be run by South Gloucestershire Community Learning.

Martyn Poole, from the parish council, said: “At the Downend Connect event, elderly people said they would love to receive messages from friends and loved ones, if only they could use a computer. Now their wish can come true.

“We want to start with turning the computer on and to take it at a pace that will suit the complete novice.”

The course will enable people to learn about ereaders, tablets, iPads and interactive devices, which can sometimes be easier for an older person to use than a PC.

Mr Poole said he was delighted at the success of the launch and relished the challenge of making sure the initiative delivered the activities requested and continued to reach out to people in the community.

“I could not be more pleased at the way this has gone so far,” he said. Downend Voice has backed Downend Connect from the start and will publish monthly updates.

Sue Jaques, partnerships officer at South Gloucestershire Council, said the publicity had been very valuable.

“We had an excellent response to our requests for information in advance and with the amazing attendance on the day. Many people said they had read about Downend Connect in Downend Voice,” she said.

Ms Jaques is also working with the organisation Wellaware (wellaware.co.uk) to ensure all information about activities in Downend is stored on its database.

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