Our free weekly Dropin Sessions in the Illawarra. close mid-December to the end of January 2022. Meanwhile there will be sessions at Warilla Neighbourhood Centre on January 17, 24 and 31 at 2-3:30pm and Albion Park Rail, Ash Ave Jan 19, 10-11:30am
Home will stop until Jan 17, 2022. Regular weekly Zoom groups have stopped but 1-on-1 Zoom help can be booked by contacting us.
Scam Awareness Week – The Great Debate Living Connected took part in Scam Awareness Week 2021 ( 8-12 Nov). We organised a Debate on the topic “Online Banking is safer and better than traditional Banking”. You can watch this on our Youtube Channel.
Opening up everywhere in 2022 In the Illawarra, our weekly sessions at Woonona-Bulli RSL, Fairy Meadow and Unanderra will resume first week of February 2022. Monthly Sessions at Albion Park Community Centre in Russell St will be held every 4th Wednesday from February 23 at 10am and on the 3rd Wednesday at Albion Park Rail Across our whole network, home visits and individual Zoom Help can be booked from January 17, 2022, with Zoom sessions free of charge. Your first home visit is free, but a cost will be incurred thereafter. Discounts are available for pensioners and those with home care packages, who can pay through a home care package by arrangement with the provider. In the Shoalhaven, we will work with existing partners IRT and start an exciting new venture with young mentors and their families at the soccer club – more soon. In the Eurobodalla and Southern Highlands, we will be having discussions with our partners on when and where we can resume free Dropin sessions in 2022. Please contact us if you are interested.
Seniors Festival 2022 The NSW Seniors Festival will take place from March 25 to April 3, 2022. and this year’s theme is “reconnect”. Living Connected will hold festival events throughout our network on a related theme “Apps for Reconnecting”
Our Great Team For 2 years, the Living Connected team faced the unexpected challenges of the pandemic. The team helped people learn to use their digital devices to deal with the isolation that came with lockdowns, and the restrictions imposed as we open up. We have received wonderful feedback from many helped. Some of our team got together and shared a few pizzas after our AGM to celebrate our successes and contribution to the community.
Coming out of Lockdown, we are resuming these free Dropin Sessions:
Woonona Bulli RSL, Princes Highway Woonona on Thursdays 3pm-4:30
Fairy Meadow Community Centre, Guest Park on Fridays 10-11:30am This replaces the session we used to run at iAccelerate on Tuesdays This replaces the Tuesday morning sessions at the Innovation Cmpus
From November 15, Unanderra Community Centre, Corner Princes Highway and Factory Rd, on Mondays 1:30-3pm.
As always, anyone wanting help with phones, tablets and laptops should bring their devices with them. Only people who have evidence of full Covid vaccination can attend. If you want help getting your certificate, we will provide it. All our helpers are vaccinated. Please don’t come if you are not well and respect the normal COVID rules.
As we resume face to face, we will stop the Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon Zoom Sessions and the last one on Monday afternoon will be November 8. We will continue to hold the weekly Zoom help session on Thursdays 10-11am and start one on Tuesday 3-4pm. The Zoom Meeting ID is 921 0743 1729 Passcode 382299
Get Online Week on YouTube
In Get Online Week (October 18-24) we live streamed discussions on our YouTube Channel which were a great success. The final one, “The Digital Landscape in Bangladesh” featured 3 international students who work with us as digital mentors. 17 people attended the live broadcast on October 21 some from Bangladesh and Bangladeshis in other countries and we have had 51 views since. Our team members in lockdown had a great time planning all 5 broadcasts and were really pleased with the response. How about you subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch all these recordings! Topics include The Living Connected Journey, How to find things on a Mac and on a PC. Use this link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkjbruEQ13J4mGwUMVZSJPg
Get Online Week in Person
Get Online Week was an opportunity to resume some of our regular in-person Dropin Sessions in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Many thanks to the Milton CWA and the Woonona Bulli RSL for allowing us to use their venues under strict COVID restrictions. We hope to open up elsewhere soon.
Living Connected prides itself on providing work experience for Wollongong University graduates while they look for a permanent job. We have mixed feelings when they inevitably get one. Our 2021 Admin Officer, Callum, is off to a great career in Canberra We wish him well and thank him for rising to the challenge of keeping us going in and out of lockdown
Though it irks us that the Illawarra is considered part of “Greater Sydney”, we remain in lockdown. We are using this time to update our online presence and back of house systems. UOW team members are once again struggling with online learning, and we offer them our support. We have also taken on some new team members looking for something to do online: Mija and Shibin in Wollongong, Lyn in Batemans Bay, and Alden in India who heard about us from one of our interns.
Digital Mentoring Services
For a number of weeks to come we may not be able to offer our face-to-face services, but we will resume our Drop-in help sessions and home visits as soon as allowed. This may start with those in regional areas. Meanwhile, our regular online group sessions on Zoom are becoming popular. Clients can also contact us to book an individual Zoom session with one of our team. Please drop in at any time (details in the email or see https://livingconnected.org.au/living-connected-online/).
Typical 1 on 1 help in a Zoom breakout room using screen sharing.
Zoom Hosting Service We are still offering a service to help organisations and groups run Zoom meetings. We can host for you or give you instructions and practice to host yourself. We can also record a session and put it up on our YouTube channel so you can send the link to others, as we did for an online presentation for the National Council of Jewish Women NSW. Click the link to view. https://youtu.be/pmTbbwANOVM
Our YouTube Channel
In “normal’ times our team members (also called digital mentors) get a great deal of joy and satisfaction from helping elders in person. With only Zoom services while in lockdown we have fewer clients. So, to keep spirits up, team members are creating short video clips introducing themselves for our YouTube Channel (banner and link below).
Living Connected has just finished running 3 x 2hour digital training sessions in 20 IRT facilities in the Illawarra, Kiama, Shoalhaven and Southern Sydney. We now look forward to concentrating on our regular program. Thankfully, we completed the last 2 sessions with IRT residents on June 25, the Friday before we went into lockdown. We met some wonderful seniors residing in IRT facilities, including folk at Towradgi Village, one of the smallest, pictured below. Also below, you see that we were helped by some of our Young Mentors in the April school holidays at IRT Diment Tower: a win-win experience for both learners and mentors. A big thankyou to our team who helped run almost 60 extra sessions in the last 3 months.
Mid-year means that some of our student helpers graduate and leave us. Here we say farewell to Ridwone , a regular helper at our Unanderra Dropin, off to do a PhD in Queensland. We now take on new interns Harley and Rose and several new UOWx volunteers. Thanks to Naz for the selfie effort.
Getting back to normal
We look forward to spending more time on our regular program of Dropin sessions and home visits. These continue to be popular, helping people with their individual challenges using phones, tablets, laptops and the internet. We hold three weekly Dropins in the Illawarra and monthly sessions further afield at Albion Park Rail, Nowra, Culburra and Bundanoon. We will soon be starting up Dropins sessions at Lake Conjola and further south in the Eurobodalla. All sessions are free of charge.
We Do Magic Awards
Living Connected was successful at the recent awards presented by the Community Industry Group, an amazing organistion that brings together all the wonderful people who run community programs in the Illawarra. We were privileged to win the “Terrific Team Effort” category for our Young Mentors program and were a finalist in the “Reinvention and Rejuvenation” and “Friends in Need” categories. Helen and Sue are here with Omar from iAccelerate and Nicky from CIG.
Drop in Group Sessions When Living Connected was created, our services followed the model of groups sessions that we started with residents of Sarah Claydon in Milton and the Basin View Mason Village. Those experiences taught us the value of helping elders with problems they were encountering in using their own devices, learning to do new activities, or even deciding on buying a new device. Our research showed that the seniors were using digital technology to remain independent, keep connected to family and do interesting activities to add meaning to their lives. In 2018 we were fortunate to receive funding through the Federal Government supported Be Connected program. This was on the basis that we offer all our services for free.
Home Visits In 2019 Be Connected funded us to develop a home visit service for those who could not get to group sessions. These were popular but labour intensive, requiring more administration and local team members. We stopped these when COVID struck but in the last 2 months, have been able to resume some group and home visit services.
Group Zoom Sessions When all face-to-face services stopped in March this year, we setup services online. We found that using Zoom breakout rooms and share screens we could put individual mentor and learner together in a way that was similar to our face-to-face services. This did not suit everyone, but we have been able to reach out to those elders isolated by distance or circumstance. We hope to continue this online service in parallel to face-to-face ones next year.
Digital Mentors Training We have now completed 3 successful offerings of our Young Mentors Program, delivering online digital-mentors training to high school students. We hope to continue this type of online digital mentor training to people of all ages in outer regional area where we hope to deliver Living Connected service in 2021.
Zoom training and hosting This year we received State Government funding from the Combatting Social Isolation for Seniors during COVID-19 Grant Program. This funded a program to help individuals and groups run Zoom Meetings and Webinars for all sorts of different reasons. Stories of typical things we did can be found on our website at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bCqZ2FAfh0NKaGxQJo87k_2GvPtCC2V5/view?usp=sharing With our help this year, many elders have found out why, how and when to meet online.
Moving into 2021 We have learned this year how important it is to ensure that all members of society are digitally included, particular our elders who often become more isolate as they age. This recognition has meant more attention and support for Living Connected, which has been most gratifying for us. We plan to continue to expand our reach and our services as needed. Our main lesson from this year is just how quickly things can change and we are ready to adapt to whatever 2021 brings.