Road improvements connect older residents with mainland family

Posted on: June 22, 2019 at 5:38 am
Frances catches up with her mainland family

Members of a weekly group for older people are using the latest technology to keep in touch with faraway friends and family thanks to a grant from the Isle of Wight Foundation.

Using iPads purchased with the grant money, the Creative Café in Newport is connecting members with their loved ones through functions such as Skype and Facetime.

The iPad tutorials and Creative Café’s other sessions to provide activity and companionship for older residents is in tune with the key foundation aim – reducing social exclusion.

The Isle of Wight Foundation is jointly funded by Ringway Island Roads, Meridiam, VINCI UK Foundation and VINCI Concessions who together make up the partnership behind Island Roads which is delivering the Highways PFI. Since 2013 around £240,000 has been donated to Island-based good causes. Applications for funding in 2017 are currently being invited. 

Around 20 older people meet each week at the Creative Café which has been run by Independent Arts since February 2015.

“It is about giving predominantly older people a safe and welcoming regular meeting place where they can meet like-minded people, build relationships over a cup of tea and also try their hand at a variety of activities,” said project manager Jess Paine.

“Our aim is to use creative activities including digital photography, music, and visual art and craft to reduce isolation and the health and social issues that can arise from loneliness.”

All sessions, which include chair yoga, photography, creative writing and creative dance are popular but the iPads tutorials are a firm favourite.

“I love coming here for a natter and to enjoy the activities,” said Frances Pratt, 88, of Newport, who this week for the first time used FaceTime to speak to her mainland cousin to wish her a happy birthday.

“She lives just outside Portsmouth and I was not able to travel over to wish her a happy birthday in person so it was lovely to be able to see her via the iPad, particularly seeing as though I forgot to send a birthday card!” Frances said. “It was the first time I have managed to dial up on Facetime and I am looking forward to doing it again.”

Brenda Tindall, 80, also of Newport, was also able to catch up with her Grandson Seb, a University College London, student. “My grandchildren Facetime me but I was not able to Facetime them until I came here – I have become much more competent at using the iPad. Using Facetime is a great way of catching up – it is so much more intimate than phoning,” Brenda said.

IW Foundation chairman Philip Horton said: “The ethos of the PFI is about more than the physical improvement of the Island’s highways network, important as that is. We also want to support the wider IW community and I am delighted the grant given to the Creative Café is making a real and positive difference.”

Further details on the IW Foundation are available at Applications for grant money are currently being invited before May 5.

The Creative Café meets every Monday at Newport Methodist Church, at Quay Street between 10am and 12 noon. For further information visit