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Combatting isolation with tech

Cire Services is loaning internet-connected tablets to their community members to help them virtually combat isolation.
Pictured: Cire trainer Rowan Barr with Alan and Naomi Taylor, Cire Community Hubs Coordinator

From fitness classes to computer classes and accessing government and health services, to family gatherings and simply checking in, over-50s in the Yarra Ranges are virtually overcoming the many challenges of COVID-19.

Thanks to a Be Connected Digital Devices grant, Cire Services Inc. has been distributing Samsung Tablets and SIM cards to its older learners who don’t have their own devices and would have otherwise been isolated given the current restrictions in Victoria.

The program and the ongoing support of Cire trainers has enabled recipients to venture into a brave new world of connectivity and master communication platforms like Zoom, as well as further develop their overall online confidence and skills.

“The devices have been an incredibly powerful tool in helping combat feelings of social isolation and loneliness,’ said Naomi Taylor, Coordinator with Cire Community Hubs, which has Be Connected sites at Yarra Junction, Chirnside Park, and Lilydale.

“It’s been hugely rewarding to be able to support the over 50s in our community with the tablets, to help keep them connected with the outside world in the comfort and safety of their own home.”

Pat, a Cire learner and grandmother from Lilydale (pictured right) was thrilled to receive her device because it allowed her to ‘see’ her grandchildren and also keep up her Fit4Life classes that were being delivered virtually by Chirnside Park Community Hub.

Alan, from Cire’s project-based Tech Hub Class where students learn practical and necessary skills for everyday life, was equally thrilled. The loan meant he could continue to access the internet, including the Be Connected Learning Portal, to further learn how to operate and perform specific skills based on his own needs, as well as access apps to help him with his spelling.

“The Be Connected website is the best I have ever used and all the material has been very thoughtfully written and designed with the true user in mind,” Alan says.

An equally appreciative Vera said it has been a real confidence booster being able to ‘play around’ with the device to learn how to use it safely.

Cire Services is one of the largest not-for-profits in the Yarra Ranges and unique to the region. The organisation provides flexible learning opportunities/education/training and community programs/services to help meet the needs of/empower people of all ages within its reach.

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