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Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association – Mrs James’ story

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association (MTHA) was loaned a number of laptop computers by Digital Communities Wales to help it increase the digital skills of its most vulnerable tenants. One of these was Mrs James*, a 59 year old lady who lives on her own. Amongst other health issues, Mrs James suffers with depression and anxiety and apart from leaving the house for medical appointments, is housebound for much of the time.

At the start of the pilot, Mrs James was reluctant to use the laptop, saying ‘I can’t do it’; she would get very wound up and lose patience.

But the MTHA team didn’t give up and continued to try and convince Mrs James to use the laptop whenever its staff made home visits. This persistence paid off, and eventually Mrs James started to slowly use the laptop. Once she had begun, there was really no stopping her!

The key to this was her realisation that she couldn’t break anything. Once she was happy with this, she began to teach herself how to do things through trial and error. Mrs James taught herself how to use YouTube to gain information, and how to Google information. This is especially useful for Mrs James as she has a problem with trusting information people give her. Using Google, she could double check information herself.

During the laptop trial, Mrs James’ dog sadly passed away. She had had the dog for 15 years and it was her only real form of companionship. A staff member helped Mrs James get through this time by showing her how to transfer pictures onto the laptop. Mrs James had some photos of the dog on an old camera, and the staff member helped Mrs James transfer them. Having the old photos really helped Mrs James come to terms with the death of her dog, and helped her move on a little.

Having the laptop available has clearly benefitted and improved Mrs James’ life, so much so that every member of staff that has come into contact with her has noticed a difference. MTHA has managed to arrange for a local business to donate an old computer to Mrs James so that she can continue to use the internet at home and learn how to do more online. The MTHA team are sure her knowledge and confidence online will continue to grow.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.